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LETTERS TO HELEN 



CRUCIFIX CORNER 
Betwcen MorT,w,r & HGr XVoot 
()ne of the hands was shot away and the 
figure hangs there suspendcd from the other. 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
Impressions of-an Artist 
on the Western Front 
By KEITH HENDERSON 

lllustrated 

LONDON 
CHATTO & WINDUS 
MCMXVII 



PREFACE 

THESE letters were never intended for 
publication. 
But when the pictures were brought 
back from France it was suggested that 
they should be reproduced, and a book 
evolved. 
Then a certain person (who shall be 
nameless) conceived the dastardly idea 
of exposing private correspondence to 
the public eye. He proved wilful in the 
marrer, and this book came into the 
wodd. 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

CRUCIFIX CORNER Fntispieoe 
A CONFERENCE IN THE CHATEAU Tofaopag« 6 
BAII.LEUL 10 
LE MONT DES CATS |8 
FRICOURT CEMETERY 32 
TRENCHES BETWEEN FRICOURT AND LA BOISELLE 48 
GIRD TRENCH 54 
A [-IousE IN GEUDECOURT 60 
A WOUNDED TnN 66 
ExPLosIoN or' AN AMMUNITION DUMP 78 
THE BUTTE DE WARLENCOURT 92 
PERONNE 106 

vii 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

June 6, 1916. 
VELL, here xve are in the slowest train that ever 
limped, and l've bcen to slcep for seveu hours. 
The fil'St good sleep silmc leaving Elglalid. 
And noxv, as xve've got twenty-eight hours to go 
still, there's rime to write a letter. The last 
three days' postcards have been scrappy and un- 
intelligible, but we departcd xvithout xvarning and 
with the most Sherlock Hohnes secrecy. Not a 
word about which ports we were sailing ri'oto or to. 
However, l'll tell you what I can xvithout dis- 
closing any names of places. 
After moving off at midnight fa'oto among the 
Hampshire pine-trees, xve eventually reached our 
port of dcparture. Great tire detraining the 
horses and getting them on board. The men 
were in the highest spirits. But how disgusting 
those cold rank smells of a dock are. 
We sailed the following cvelfing. Hideously 
rough, and it took seventeen and a hall hours. 
B 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
The men very quiet indeed and packed like 
sardines. It was wonderful fo think of all those 
eager souls in all those ships making for France 
together over the black deep water. Some had 
gone before, and some came after. But the 
majority went over that night. I felt decidedly 
ill. And it ws nervous work going round seeing 
after the horses md men when a "crisis " might 
have occurred at any moment I Luckily, how- 
ever, dignity was preserved. Land at last "hove 
in sight" as the grey morning grexv paler and 
clearer. Vhat busy-looking quaysl Moreclatter 
of disembarkation. No rime to think or look 
about. 
Then, all being ready, we mounted and trekked 
off to a so-called "rest camp " near the town, 
most uneasy and hectic. But food late that 
evening restored out hilarity. A few hours' sleep 
and we moved off once more into the night, the 
horses' feet sounding loud and harsh on the 
unending French cobbles. By 8 a.m. we were 
ail packed into this train. Now we are passing 
by lovely, almost English, wooded hills. Here a 
vell-known town with its cathedral looks most 
entieing. I long to explore. Such singing from 
the men's carriages I Being farmers mostly, they 
are interested in the unhedged fields and the acres 
of cloches. Ïhey go into hysterics of laughter 
when the French people assail them with smiles, 



FRANCE AT LAST 
brokcn English-Frcnch, ,-uld long loavcs of bread. 
They think the long loaves ,ery humorous ! 
There are Y.M.C.A. canteens at most stations, 
so vc arc wcll fcd. Thc horscs arc miscrablc, of 
course. Thcy wcrc unhappy on board ship. A 
horse can't bc sick, you know, cvcn if hc wauts 
to. And nov thcyare wrctchcd in thcir trucks. 
Rinaldo and Swal|ow arc, of course, tcrrified, 
while .lezebel, having rapidly thought out the 
situation, takcs it ail vcry quietly. Shc bas just 
catch an cnormous lunch, l'oor l[inaldo wouldn't 
toueh his, and Swallow only are a very little. 
In this earriage dorroeks is snoring like thunder. 
Edward is eating ehoeolate. Sir 3ohn is trying 
to plough through one of "these Frenehy news- 
papers--damned nonsense, you know] they don't 
knov what it all means themselves." And dulian 
is scrutinizing a map of our area. 
Everyone is so glad to be going up right into it 
now. That pottering about at home was most 
irritating. .lust spit and polish, spit and polish 
all the rime since August, 191-f. 
We are ail getting cramp, and have to stand up 
occasionally. Toby has smoked lais fourteenth 
pipe. 
Oh, look! lVhat a lovely rainbowl Treble. 
And under it a village with an estaminet, a dozen 
slate-roofed houses, and a very new château, 
hideous with scarlet bricks and chocolate draw- 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
bridge and pepper-pot turrets. Poplars and more 
poplars. Still we rumble along through sym- 
metrical France. 

June 7. 
We are in one of the most lovely old Freneh 
ehâteaux I have ever imagined. Hall château, 
hall trm, fifeen mlles behind the line. We 
remain here for two or three days. Arrived late 
la.st night, tired and grubby. But, () ye gods, 
when dawn begau to reveal this old eourtvard 
with its hens and ehiekens and pigeos ! On oue 
side the old house with its faded shutters. On 
the other side the old gateway vith a square 
tower and a pigeon-eoteabove. Alongtheother 
sides old barns. The country round we have 
hardly seen, but it looks exquisite. There are 
several most attractive foals in a field close by. 
And inside the château thnny old-fashioned 
thigs--old beds with frowsty eanopies, and old 
wall-papers with large designs in ferns and cornu- 
eopias. Imitation marble in the hall. G ilded 
tassels. Alas I my kit has hot yet arrived. It's 
awfid. And the anxiety to draw these things is 
feverish. We go so soon. 
Vhen you look out of the rooms into the eourt- 
yard, you see out waggons and draff-horses, and 
the men eating bully-beef like wolves. Some 



THE CHÂTEAU-FARM 

them (including Sergeant Cart) are shaving and 
washing stripped to the waist. The others just 
tear at the bread and becf and munch without 
speaking. Corporal Nutley and Corporal Field 
are pointing vith their tea-lnugs to the old gate- 
way and the ducks and things. They all evi- 
dently love it. They sleep in the barns anaongst 
the hay. The sun is warln and sleepy. 

Jt«c 8. 
Still at this lovcly ch;iteau-firm, and I ,it'c seems 
to have gone into a trame. I w«ke up and look 
out into the courtyard :nd the SUlfiight, on geese, 
Muscovy ducks, pigs, ad pigeols, and it ail feels 
like a halt:forgotten story. Thcrc are traces ofthe 
Hms, but all that seelns unreal. You hear the 
boom l boom l booln I of the guns all day, and 
more so at night ; but lothing can disturb the 
extraordinary remote peace of this chtteau. The 
very stones in the courtyard look more fl'iendly 
and more countrified tlmn ordimry stones, as if 
SOlne ancient iitiry lived herc. There's lin doubt 
at all that the men feel it. Several of them have 
said hov they like the place. They think it's a 
little bit like--shire. I think I klmV what 
they mean. 
Aier the war perhaps we lnay visit the place 
together : I should lo,e showing it to you. l'in 
5 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
hot at all sure that it's really very beautiful. 
architecture isn't good when you consider it. 
solllehow . . . 

The 
But 

June 10. 
The saine chhteau. Ve are living a simple 
and brainless lire. No field-days, of course, and 
for this relief much thanks. We don't know in 
the least what is happening. Troops eolne and 
troops go, and guns go by during the uight, 
and Red Cross waggons go hither and thither, 
and the old turkey gobbles. 
Yesterday I was out with my troop, quite un- 
interesting. But what do you think . Something 
exploded hot 100 yards away ri-oto Rinaldo. I 
was lnUCh farther off, dismounted. He didn't 
turn a hair, but oltly looked round and watched 
the smoke. Whereas, as you know, a little bit of 
paper blown across the road sends him into 
paroxysms of terror. 

I went into an old church in a large town ten 
toiles from here to-day vith Sergeant Hodge. 
There were the usual tinsel things and red baize 
and shaln flovers. Sergemlt Hodge much ina- 
pressed, He said after we emerged : "You knov, 
sir, it's very fine indeed. It puts lne in mind of 
6 



A CONFERENCE IN THE CHA- 
TEAU DE FEBVIN- PALFART 
There are many of these old chateaux- 
farms in Northern France. The beds are 
under great frows)" canopies and ail the 
eurtains are Iooped up with hea')" tassels. 



l 



A SERVICE FOR KITCHENER 
a bazaar." This was in all good faith, and was 
intended as a great compliment fo the churchl 
We are having lots of rain, which is bad for the 
horses, who are picketed in the open. _And 
thunder. It's often extremely ditticult to tell 
whether, when the thunder is far away, itis 
thunder or guns. Quite a novel experience, 
and quite pleasant after the long period of lnake- 
bclieve in England. Discipline. So salutary 
and so irksome. Nov for the battlc. I own I 
long to get into the thick of if soon. We see 
infantry rcturning and going up, and we fcel 
sick, somehow, tobe still sat. 
This country is very charming, but a bit mono- 
tonous. Every road and every ficld exactly like 
every other. 

Jtttte 13. 
A service to-day for Kitchencr. And ve had 
to ride fifteel mlles there in pouring raiu. Then 
we stood in deep lnud for about an hour, the rain 
gradually trickling down our necks. 
To-day delicious rulnours of a German defeat 
at Verdun. Lots of prisoners, including the 
Crown Prince 1 
Goodness me, such rain. Jezebel bit Swallov 
above the eye mercly to show vhat hcr feel- 
ings were. He now has one eye elmrmously 
7 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
swollcn and ahnost closcd up. It is drcsscd with 
iodine, so hc looks most rclnarkable. His bcauty 
much damagcd. But it will only bc tcmporary. 
Hunt tclls me that Swallow is so frightcncd of 
.lczcbel he darcn't lie down at night. But thcn, 
Hunt thinks Jezcbel a sort of Buccphalus, and 
thc more borscs she kicks or bites the more pridc 
he takcs in hcr. He bas no love for Swallow, 
unfortunately. 
Thcre's a distant cannonade going on to-day. 
We all eye each other. 

June 17. 
In the small-hours of to-night we leac this 
wonderfifi place. Vhy we were ever seoir l;ere 
or why moved away is olle of those mysteries 
only known to a few staff ofiïeials. 
But how ve have loved it. At least I have. 
Some of the others--Jorroeks for instanee--have 
been bored. But, then, they eouldn't draw, poor 
dears. Do you know I have done three pietures. 
That's a lot in this lnilitary lire. One of the eourt- 
yard, with eoeks and hens and things, and in the 
distance men eleaning thc:r saddles. Another of 
the vestibule, wit'.. J ulian and Edward eonsulting 
over Solne map or other at a table. Another of a 
"fosse" or eoalTit about a toile away. A eoal- 
pit sounds rcpulsive, but hOt so in Northern 
France. They are away from all houses and sur- 
8 



FEBVIN TO BAILLEUL 
rounded by corn-fields. The coal reMse is the 
curious part of it. Up it cornes from the main 
shaft and is piled up into a series of large pyramids, 
visible for mlles around. Many of the famous 
"redoubts "are coal-reMse pyramids really. A nd 
such nice little chimneys. Rinaldo--gone! 
Isn't it heartbreakingl An iml)ortant person 
cornes nosing round, and asks for him. Sir John 
doesn't like to refuse. I ara powerless. Adieu, 
dear Rinaldo ! One gets awflflly fond of a horse. 
Rinaldo was very naughty somctilnes, 1)ut I loved 
him all the more tbr it. And now his good looks 
have been disastrous. 011 that he had becn 
uglier, lsn't it lnaddening. Such a leaper, so 
fast, and such courage, lVell, perhaps I shall see 
hiln again. 

Juste 19. 
At the last nolnent an order that we are hot 
to go. Then late last night an order to send on 
an advanced party of one oflàcer and one sergeant 
and two men immediately. So off I go with 
Sergeant Dobbin and Huntand Noad. We had 
to find billets and bivouacs for the squadron at a 
place far ff-oto here. This ve did, and the 
squadron has just arrivcd, and ve have had lunch 
and are feeling very fitt indeed. We have just 
seen a prctty aeroplane shov. Six of theln flcw 
over our heads towards the Boche, and presently 
9 



LETTERS TO HEI.,EN 

puff, puff! went the little dark clouds of smoke 
ail amongst them. They then got too high and 
too far off for us to see, but we still saw the 
Arehie shells following them. First a flash in the 
sky, then a very dark spot ; then the spot grows 
larg'er and fluftier, and becomes a dusky little 
eloud. So you see some flashes, some dark spots, 
and some laïger fluffy elouds--all on the wretched 
aeroplane's track. 
Only two returned, alas! but they told us 
they had brought down three Aviatiks. 
Ve're moving with great rapidity up into 
colder elimes. More anon. 

,lune 22. 
I wrote a p.c. early this morning, as I thought 
I might get no other chance. Things are ail 
merry aud bright. We have moved up like oiled 
lightning from- to a rather famous plaee. 
Hedges and hop-fields. Very interesting ehureh 
not hurt at ail. We are suffering so (at least, 
the poor men are) from thirst. There's no water 
anywhere. I long to gulp down green pond 
vater. However, that will be remedied shortly, 
I hope. I went into the big town and bought a 
barrel of beer for the men. Tempting Provi- 
dence. But there's nothing else. Ïhe water 
isn't good even when boiled. However. all will 
be well soon. 
10 



5IANY SMELLS AND NO VATER 

Jue 23. 

The most extraordinary things are happening. 
All very quiet and hulndrum on the surface. 
Only the aeroplancs are busy, and if the sun is 
between you and them there are always the little 
black high Archie clouds following then, like 
vulturcs appcariag froln nowhcre. 
Our quick bolt up hcre has had sevcral pleasant 
results. First, thc country is vcry beautiful, 
lnorc hilly in this ilnlncdiatc ucighbourhood, with 
great plains stretching away on ail sidcs. The 
low hills all havc woods round them, and a wind- 
mill or a church on the top. Second, B Squadron 
bave already arrived, and out old Brigade-Major 
and lots of other old fricnds. It was nost joyous 
lneeting them ail again. We came trotting dowl 
one road, covered with dust, and they cane 
trotting down another road even more covered 
with dust, having trekked all day. 
Isn't it funny. One gets so quickly used to 
things that already we have ceased to notice the 
smells, which at tirst lnade us wield bottles of 
disiufectant wherever we went. But now, when 
the farms and outhouses and other places where 
we lire slnell, we merely laugh, and "fatigues" 
are all at work automatically before nightfall, and 
by lmxt morning--well, the smells bave not gone, 
ll 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
but the general feeling is that a good start has 
been ruade. 
The water problem is still unsolved, and we 
get very thirsty ; but thirst is a small fleabite, 
after all. " Whieh would you rather have," I 
asked a diseontented lanee-eorporal, "a bit of a 
thirst or a dentist drilling a hole down a pet 
nerve .v' And he owned he'd rather have a thirst. 
You know, it's most awkward. They eome to 
you when there's any diffieulty and seem to think 
you ean put things right always. For instance, 
a man came up the other day : " Please, sir, l've 
lost my haversaek." "' Vhen did you nliss it 
first .v' " Between -- and , sir." " Now 
what do you want me to do .v' "' I don't know, 
sir." " Do you wanl; lne to go baek to  and 
seareh the whole of the twenty odd toiles to -- 
on the off chance of finding it .v' " No, sir." 
" Do you want to do so yourself .v' " No, sir." 
" And even if I ordered you to go, do you think 
that, with so many troops about, you would be 
likely to find it still there ." "No, sir." 
The result is, of eom'ae, that I have to buy one 
tbr the unfortunate lad in the nearest town. 
One must eat. And out haversaeks are oui" 
larders. Haversaeks are supplied by the army, 
but it takes sueh a rime to get anything, that, if 
the matter is urgent, it has tobe done without 
the army. We (the bloomin' orfieers) have a 
1 o 



READY FOR THE PUSH 

"mess-cart" for all our absurd xvines and tinned 
peaehes and things, but the men often have 
nothing but the contents of thcir haversacks. 

June 25. 
We are in a flmny state of waiting for some- 
thing to happen. Rumours flying about ail the 
rime. re lire on them--a bite off one, a slice 
offanother, a merry-thonght off another. And 
so we learn the nevs of the xvorld, l'apers when 
we get a chance of going into some town, and 
then only two days old, or clse French, which are 
very scrappy. Often ve get no news at all for 
three or fi)ur days, except wlmt some passing 
ambulance xvill vouchsafe. And usually they 
don't really knov nmch. So whcn there's an 
extra heavy strafing or an extra quiet lull we 
learn that the entire German stalT h:ts been 
captured, or Rheims evacuated, or Holland sunk, 
or something else equally strange. The M.G.'s 
were hammering away furiously last night, and 
the whole line was lovely with star shclls hang- 
ing like arc lights in the air, and then dropping 
slowly to earth. They light up everything like 
immense moons. 

Jne 28. 
Starting ff'oto the farm where the horses are 
hidden at nine o'clock last night (twenty-one, as 
13 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
we call it out here), aftcr a hot meal, we marched 
through Bedfordshire-like country, along ascend- 
ing paths, fo the bottom of a wooded hill where 
a motor lorry with picks and shovels met us. 
Thence along a narrow muddy path through a 
wood. The path circles round the bill. The 
east side of t]e hill titces thc Boche front line. 
It was still quitc light. The undcrgrowth thick 
and (hmk. Out fellowsvcry merry. The Io(.hes 
know this path, whieh is pitted with shell holes. 
They shell the place I)y day, oddly enoug'h, but 
hard|y ever by night. 
I t was raining gently. Turtle-doves contim- 
ally crossed our wty. I felt nmch intrigue& A 
very weird wood. The gms crashcd lethargieally, 
intermittently. 
Vhen we got round to the east side of the hill, 
the R.E.'s, who were aeting as guides, eom[brters, 
und fl'iends, showed us what we were to do : to 
dig a line of treneh  feet deep, and as narrow as 
might be, for some eables that were to lead into 
a very important set of dug-outs for certain pink 
md gold people. 
The dug-outs are deep in the side of the hill. 
It's what is called an advanced Il.Q.--Le., when 
the Push begins, the gilded ones will cravl in and 
rap out messages to the various commanders, and 
watch the battle. 
Ïhe R.E. officers showed us what was wanted, 



TRENCH DIGGING 

and each man put in his pick or shovel to nmrk 
the line. This is the procedure: each pick or 
shovel about 2 yards apart, and each man delves 
on that spot till he is 6 feet down. If if were 
not done like this, then (when it became too 
dark to see)the line would be lost. This only 
applies fidly, of course, when you are in woods or 
other cover. Digg'hg isn't really a eavalry job. 
But what of that ? 
Vell, now xve've startcd. I t's about ten o'clock, 
and getting very dira. l)rizzle, drizzle, drizzle. 
Humphry and I crecp up (ncglcctfid of duty) to 
the top of the bill. A tiny tower there, smashed 
to pieces, but heautitifl in the twilight. We creep 
about mnongst shell craters. Presently a strange 
sweet odour. Flowers ? Impossible. We stare 
into the dusk. An exquisite faint scent ail 
around us. Surely, surely, thylne ? Yes, sweet- 
williams, thylne. Èvidently there bas been a 
cottage here, but now only a Inass of rubble and 
beanas and glass to show where once it was. 
Sweet-williams, thylne, and later some Canter- 
bury bells. Another drealn-place, like that old 
ch'2teau-farm. 
Vhat a view from here of the German lines and 
ours t As it gets darker, the flashes of the 
guns and the Very lights" solenm brilliance illu- 
minate the whole show like a map. That tragic 
ruin of a town on out left is being shelled as 
15 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
usual. Jim is there. In front of us the German 
salient. All comparatiely quiet. How lovely it 
is ! The sonnds of onr men digging in the wet 
soil mingle now with other small noises. Voices 
undcrground. Listen. And a mouth-organ's 
cheery bray coming from the bowels of the 
earth. It is pitch-dark. Ve stand up like 
Gcnerals survcyiug the battle-field. No danger. 
The Boche does hot waste ammunition. 
The tain is very heavy. I have got a turf of 
swcet.-william to smcll. 
We return fo the mcn. They are wet through, 
but quite happy and content. Not a hnllet, 
not a scrlp of anything that goes pop. They 
work in a warlli, wet peace. That is one of 
the odd things you learlv-that only certain 
places are dangerous, and usually only at certain 
times. 
The tain is coming down with tropicr,1 in- 
ten.sitv. I ara in a misty dream. It's ::ll so 
mysterious. Suddenly I fall over somethiug-- 
plonk into the middle of some excavatcd çarth, 
wl,ich thc rain has ruade into semolina I.-'.:dding. 
Tiresome to be absent-minded. Hov it ])ours ! 
Midnight. 
The roots of the trees make it very diflïct:lt to 
dig tidily, but the men use their " billucks " with 
thc unerring skill of farmers, and thcir spades and 
picks as you or I wonld lise a pencil. Time goes 
x6 



A STRAFE 
on. The trench must be done betbre 2.80 a.m. 
1Ve have to be gone before dawn. It is nearly 
done now. Half-past tvelve. The rain is stop- 
ping. One o'clock. No, if isu't. It's colning 
down again. Hali:past one. The trcnch is 
filfished. We must cover up ail signs of if with 
branches, lest the vily Taube should see, mark, 
learn, and inwardly digest. 
A quarter to two. 
Suddenly crash l bang l clash I boom l bang l 
We almost jump out of our skis. Where the 
deuce were all those guns hid(lel ? Froln all 
about us, and ihr away behind and on either flank, 
out guns have begun strafing. The lnOSt hideous 
and deafening din. 
The ground seems to shake. Then an order 
cornes that we are to clear out at once. We 
do so. The Boches haven't answered yet, 
but they will. The whole thing seems quite 
unreal. The men vastly entertained. I honestly 
felt as if I were at solne exciting melodrama. 
The least cessation of the guns, and I found 
myself saying : " Don't stop ! don't stop I" I 
shouted into Corporal Nutley's car: "Can you 
hear what I'm saying " and he answercd : " No, 
sir." 
At last we got out into the little path, and had 
fo double along through the mud. lhunphry 
was last man out, and he saw the one and only 
17 c 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

shell the Boches sent over, exploding quite close 
to the aforementioned dug-out. 
Isn't it funny. The Boches don't apparently 
know of this dug-out, or of the cable trenches, or 
they would, of course, smash it to pieces. And, 
for some reason that I haven't yet grasped, they 
never reply to our guns immediately. They wait 
for perhaps ten minutes, and tlen they don't 
always reply to the saine spot we spoke ff'oto. 
As, for example, this wood. Our guns were all 
in and round about the wood. The Boches 
apparently strafed back at an unoflnding village 
on the west side of the hill. 
So, with our guns still behaving like tbings 
delirious, we eventually reaehed the horses. 
Jezebel was quietly gorging herself with long 
luscious grass beside the hedge. She told me she 
hadn't noticed anything unusual. Poor Swallow 
was standing quite still, with his nostrils wide 
open, breathing hard and trelnbling all over. A 
good many horses were trembling, but tbe 
majority agreed with Jezebel: " It's only SOlne 
silly nonsense on the part of those Hulnan Beings 
again. Don't listen." 
Then we saddled up and rode baek to a place 
well behind, where we could exercise the beasties. 
They had been given no exercise for three days. 
And so home again to this farm. The horses 
are all in a field surrounded by trees, and eouldn't 
18 



LE MONT DES CATS 
Near Y vg-s 

In the early days of the war spies used to 
signal from thc monastery on the top of 
this hill. The country round about is 
quite fiat and water-logged. 



THE ROADS NEAR DRANONTRE 

be seen from above at all. I have seen lots of 
other horse-liues of other units, though, much 
closer to the ri'out t}lan this is--quite open to 
view. The fact is, I think, that Hun aircraft 
very seldom indeed gets across iuto our pre- 
serres. 

July 6. 
Overnight if appears in orders that the roads 
ri'oto -- to  via -- are to be repored on 
with reference to their suitability for heavy trans- 
port, guns, cavalry, infanry, etc. 
So after an early breakfast Hunt cornes round, 
with Swallow for nie and Jezebel for himself, 
haversack rations for us both, and feeds for the 
horses. 1 feel very much on the qui-vive, as I 
haven't seen that particular part before. 
A grey v«arln day. Some toiles to go due south 
before we get near our destiuation. _As we 
approach it we find, as usual, roads alld railways 
being ruade, and thtigue-parties repaintiug tents 
with blotches and stripes. Then corne notices, 
"/qo traflïc along this road," or," This road liable 
to be shelled," vith signboards at every coruer, 
" To " or some other place iu the trenches. 
Soluetimes the novices say "Soluething-or-other 
Avenue" or " Burlington Arcade," etc.--nick- 
names, but recognized officially. Aud all the 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
time we are passing endless lorries and Red 
Cross wag'gons and troops and dug-out eamps. 
As we get eloser the signs of shelling get worse, 
and ehildren are seen no longer. Old men, 
though, oeeasionally observed working in a field 
quite unperturbed. Rarely a Freneh soldier or 
an interpreter with lais sphinx badges. All 
this quite lost on Hunt, who has "quite got used 
to abroad, thank you, sir." He is eating ehoeolate 
or something, hall a horse-length (the eorreet 
distance) behind me. 
Now on out left is a falnous ridge, with a ruined 
village on the top. Not, you understand, a ridge 
in the Swiss sense, but rther in the Norfolk 
sense. I should like to go and see it, but it's too 
open to the Boehe's eye, altd I don't want to dis- 
lnount yet. So we eurve round right-handed a 
bit. Ahal "To --" Nous voilà! Follow 
down this muddy track under cover of the ridge, 
and we arrive at  A wood just beyond the 
little town. Oh, lnournfil wood ! " Bois (:pais, 
redouble ton ombre." But they say the anemones 
and the primroses were as lnerry and sweet as 
ever this spring. Bravo little wood ! 
The village is, of course, evacuated by ail 
inhabitants. The houscs all in ruins. By now 
all the remaining windows have been boarded up 
and the blown-out doors b«rred against prying 
eyes. Here we are at an old estaminet called 
0 



PLOEGSTEERT 

"Aux Cœurs joyeux." There's hardly anything 
bul; l;hc sign lcfl;. Al; l;hc cross-roads in l;hc 
centre of thc l;own is l;hc church, so dismal. No 
roof, pillars brokcn and lyiug aboul; l;hc floor 
amougsl; dcbris of brokcn images, chaiïs, and 
muddy rubble. 
As I ara eoming oui; I l;urn over l;he hand of 
au image, and underneal;h il; whal; the deuee is 
l;his ? Vhy, a fi'agmenl; of an old pieture, l;orn 
and deeaying away. Whal; shall I do ? Leave 
il; l;o rol; Giveil; l;o . . . Yes, exael;ly . . . 
to whom ? Aud would anyone thank me for 
Jusl; a head of Si;. John, very bal;l;ered and faded. 
II;'s a ffagmenl; aboul; a roof; square, and l;hrough 
all the mud one ean see somel;hing like this : A 
head of Si;..lohn in l;he corner; rays of lighl; 
(l;wo very l;hin small rays) shining on him aud 
a look of greal; suffering o his face. The baek- 
ground a sorl; of' dull oehre. Evidenl;ly once 
a large eomposil;ion. There are l;vo books, one 
with :va, aud l;he ol;her wil;h, I l;hink, BIBLIA 
s.«ca, wril;ten on it. Il; is quite worl;hless excepl; 
froln a scnl;imcnl;al poinl; of view. 
Thc exposurc and the hcal; of the explosions 
havc sadly crackcd and pcclcd the painl;, bul; 
sccms vagucly symbolical. Ncar here I picked 
up somc minute bil;s of grccn glass. 
Howcvcr, l;hcre was a nol;icc: "Il; is dangcrous 
l;o loil;cr hcrc." So I torc mysclf away, and we 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
remounted. The Boche can't see into the town 
because of the remaining buildings, but the vhole 
place is utterly empty--not a dog even. 
Soon the road to the next village is exposed to 
the Boche's view. Therefore canvas screens 
about 20 feet high have been erected, so that, if 
necessary, troops, and even lorries, can hurry by. 
It is most cm'ious. "But for that rhin bit of 
canvas, my good Swallov, you would get some- 
thing into your tummy you wouldn't like," I 
rcmarked. At that moment the sun came out. 
We were keeping to the side of the road where 
it is sort gohg. Suddenly Swallow leaped like 
a stag into the middle of the road all over the 
pave". Panic terror. He had seen the shadov 
of a starling flit across his path ! 
.lezebel vas tittuping along behind, thinking 
only of her next feed. I cannot get ber to take 
any interest in these thrilling spots. Sometimes 
a soldier or two would emerge from a cellar, the 
cntrance to which would be pilcd up with sand- 
bags. And once or twice bang l bang! goes a 
gun quite close by. 
Vell, so ve go through the next deserted and 
wrecked village, again out of sight of the Boche, 
because of the ruins alld a fev trees. Then into 
a very falnous towll indeed, and across a river 
three tilnes by three dilerent bridges--not the 
old bridges, vhich are broken down, but sapper- 



ARMENTIERES 
built bridges. Here is a party going into the 
trenches just on the ir side of the town. They 
look distinctly cheery, and are all of the same 
ripe brown. Thence right-handed agaiu and 
gradually back fo civilization, or, rather, to lire 
first and civilization some way behind. Event- 
ually people strolling about and shops. I bought 
a pair of those jolly French-tartan stockings for 
little Bun. Vith a grey dress they will look 
most charlning, I think. 
Agaia masses of soldiers with their field- 
kitchens in muddy fields from which all traces of 
grass have been stamped long ago. And the 
everlasting mule. There are mules everywhere 
out here. 
Such attractive cottages, white with green 
shutters, and SOlUetimes little Dutch gardens. 
5Iany windmills, several pigeons always fluttering 
round each. A lorry in a ditch. A roadside 
canteen, witl perhaps an A.S.C. camp near by. 
Fields and fields of corn and every other crop 
under the sun. I long to sketch, but feel slightly 
nervous of so doing so far froln camp. I don't 
want fo be arrested as a spy. IVe are practically 
out of the danger area by now, but you never 
know. Some boring A.P.M. might pounce on 
the sketch and create a botheration. 
5Ieantime I have been laboriously making 
pretty maps to present to Sir John, coloured 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

maps showing where sueh and sueh a rise of 
ground could be hcld, or where such and such a 
road otTcrs dilficulties to transport, etc. But it's 
hot easy to do, aud we don't get back to camp 
till rive mimtcs before stables, baving covered 
about tbirty mlles. Besides, we had to stop and 
feed ourselves and the horses. 
Then stables. Sergeant Hodge reprimanded 
fornot having reported a bad kick. Soutbcoml)e 
slacking a 1)it. 5lust kecp an eagle eye on tbat 
young mal. At the end a whistlc (no trumpets 
allowed). The horses all neigh and toss their 
heads and paw. Nosebat, s are put on, and after 
touring round to see tbat all is correct we slope 
off to tea, which Hale and Co. have got all 
ready. Luxuriousménageas ofyore. But good 
wheu you're hungry, tbere's no doubt. SVe are 
moving again--probably to-morrow. 

Julff 10. 
We bave moved. The sixth time altogether. 
Not far though. A close viev of the sweet- 
villiam hill. It must be sketched. 
I ara sitting on some scks of corn, wondering 
wby Ffitz doesn't lob over a crump or two, jUSt 
fo wake us up. Jezebel is going herself close 
by. Swallow eats a bit, and then suddenly looks 
up and suiffs nervously. I suppose he has heard 



THE HORSES 

a beetle trottiug by, or seen a tig fitll off a 
tree. 
The horses are all picketed out in a field, and we 
are in bivvies. Hale has ruade me a bed out of 
some polcs and wire netting, as he says it is a 
clay sul)soil and [ nmstn't lie on the grass, i 
suppose he knows. 

Jul!! 12. 
l'm writing this ill a queer dilapidated nmd 
cottage, inhabited by an ancient ex-soldier aged 
eighty-three. He is very diflïcult to understand. 
H is language is quite foreign to me. But he 
owns the quaintest little doll-like image of the 
Vil'gin in a glass case, and several Bristol balls I 
I nearly fell fiat when I saw them. His grand- 
father, I think he says, was in England once. 
The cottage is quite close to our present camp, 
and we go in for lneals when it's very wet. 
The bed Hale ruade me is growing into a 
house. He has discovered various old sacks, bits 
of tarred Ilt, and planks, and the place is be- 
colning a most attractive little abode. 
ïhen you must imagine an old wild-cherry 
tree, and lots of young oaks and elders, etc.. ail 
round. Jezebel and Swallow lire close by. 
Jezebel has acquired a new trick. You know 
she doesn't like having her tulnmy groomed. 
5 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
Vell, now (especially, of course, when it's very 
muddy) she waits till Hunt has finished dressing 
her, and then, as soon as his back is turned, she 
lics down and rolls. Hunt is in despair. He 
used to be rcally fond of her. But now I believe 
he'd kill her if he could, sometimes. All his 
labour entirely and ridiculously in vain. l'In 
convinced that she does it on purpose, because 
she alvays chooses just the molnent when he has 
achieved a beautiful polish on her, and either has 
to go off to breakfast or else to get the saddle or 
something. It's as good as a play. 
We are learning the '" tactical "' lnerits of ail 
the roads and woods and hills (such as they are) 
ail along our sector of front, and as much as we 
tan, with field-glasses, of the other side. An 
offensive. Vhat fun. But exactly where are 
we going to offend ? Rulnours everywhere. If, 
we say, that village or that ridge has to be taken 
froln this or that unexpected position, how shall 
we do it ? Suppose we get Fritz on the hop, as 
they have near Peronne. Vhere are the most 
covered approaches to the slopes of that hill ? 
Shall we carry the thing off as splendidly as those 
squadrons did before Peronne, or shall we bungle 
the show ? You'll see. 
We get so few papers here, and only two days 
old at that, but no one seems much the worse 
for it. 
6 



NEUVE EGLISE 

Only one solitary man with lice so far. The 
man has been sent avay, and is, I hear, tobe 
given sulphur baths and scrubbed with a scrub- 
bing brush. 
Oh, I was going to say just now--re recon- 
noitring--that we were doing all the ground 
about a village where there is a church even more 
smashed than the St..lohn place. Itis on a hill, 
and all the village is Sahara. The church relnains 
with the remnants of four outside walls and the 
tower. Fritz does hot destroy the tower, as itis 
a good spot for him to range on to. And outside 
the tower, right up at the top, is the bronze 
minute-hand of the old clock. Ïhe rest of the 
clock-face bas been blown into the middle of the 
church, and lies there nearly complete amidst a 
crumbled heap of pillars and mortar and chair- 
legs and pulpit fragments. One notice on a 
house amused me so, and the troop too. It says, 
"Do hot totch this house." The reason being 
rather obvious. For if you did touch the house, 
it would certainly fall on to your head. The 
next shell will bring it down, even if it's a couple 
of hundred yards away, merely by the vibration. 
We find shell holes so useflil for watering the 
horses. They seem to retain water in a most 
curious way. 

0_7 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

J«ly 19. 
On the move again. A four days' trek. Not 
more than txventy mlles a day, in ordcr to keep 
thc horses "in the pink." Thcy are ccrtainly very 
lit noxv, and a gcntlc twenty mlles a day just keeps 
thcm niccly exerciscd. :But twcnty mlles ata 
¢al" is hot ovcrcxciting. Still, itis itteresting 
tobe covering thc ground. We already know 
quite a lot of tbc back of the ff'ont. I,ast night 
we arrived in a cool lull after showers. Fronl 
quiet and unevcntful strctches of bcdgelcss corn- 
ticlds, interscctcd by long straight roads, lined 
sometimcs with poplars, but more oftcn with 
lopped wych-clms or willows, we dcsccndcd rather 
suddenly iuto a little wooded vallcy xvhere a 
village sits by thc trouty stream. After watcring 
the horses at the strcam, we filed by squadrons 
into various ficlds and pickcted down for tbe 
night. Somc of us in a small but clcan estaminet, 
others in barns. 
A ve T peaccful trek, quite different ri'oto thc 
dazzling swoop that was threatcncd. 

.]u/y 0. 
Ara I telling you about the things you want 
to hear . Usually I think l've talked mostly 
about out surroundings, doings, and only to a 
very small extent about out thoughts. :But, truth 
8 



FLESSELLES 

to relate, we think so little that there is hot much 
in that line to record. On this job you just can't 
thilk. Aud a good thing too, perhaps. 
ilowevcr, here we are, alld hcre I expcct we 
shall remain for, say, a week. The horses are ail 
right out in the open. The men are in barns. 
But we are in cottages--rcal, almost English- 
looking cottages. Edward and I share a room 
la one, and the others are dotted about the village. 
Now, this is the cottage : 
From the high strect (the only street) you turn 
into a little gate, and then walk down a path of 
brick with a narrow flower border on either side, 
and vegetables bcyoud. The cottage is white, 
with lace curtains and brick floors, without 
carpets, like ail French cottages. Ïhe walls bave 
endless pictures of saints and things, with occa- 
sioual crucifixes and school certiticates and faded 
photographs of people in stiffdresses and crimped 
hair. 
Out at the back more kitchen-garden with some 
ii'uit-trees. 
A ltogether quite a charming little place. D usty 
and rather fiat open country intersccted by deepish 
valleys, hot uulike the Cirencester road if you 
removed ail the woods, or nearly all. We don't, 
of course, kllow vhat we are goiug to do aow. 

"29 



I,ETTERS TO HELEN 

Ju, l!! 23. 
Things is curiouser and curiouser. In all haste 
we got ready to nlove. Ve then moved like 
tortoises. I rode over to-- yesterday. Cavalry 
all over the place like locusts. And, lawks ! 
what a dinl Guns in a xTiolent paroxysm of 
rage. Aeroplanes wandering about in the sky, 
purring like angry panthers, all ycllow in the 
sunlight. Aud all day and night more dusty mcn 
and dusty horses and dusty lorries and dusty guns 
coming and going, coming and going. 
The other squadron at last quite close fo us. 
Long talks with Dennis. He's had an exciting 
rime, and was under orders for a most hair-raising 
job, which didu't corne off owing fo Fritz's tire- 
some habit of doing the unexpected. Horrors I 
The General has been trying Swallow. I fear he 
may steal him. Of course he bas every right to 
auy horse in tlle regiment, but itis quite diflïcult 
to smile. Swallow is, unïortunately, even more 
showy than Rinaldo was ; but he shied ata goat, 
bless him, and I think that may just turn the 
scale. I shall now proceed to train Swallow to 
shy at every blade of grass, every grain of sand. 
Long live that goatl Ve are still "standing 
by." If is a wearing existence. I bathed yester- 
day in a well-known river. So beautiful and 
willowy. 
$0 



A BATH 

Jdy 28. 
Tcmperature 100,000 °  And I ara lying on a 
bcd in a wce cottage, very, vcry dusty and dirty. 
Hale, howcvcr, is goiug to bring some watcr 
ff'oto thc pump, and, oh Jcrusalcm, won't it be 
heavcnly--a hath l Ail thcsc things off, and 
lovcly clean things on, and lovcly coffce to drink 
when that's donc. I wouldn't change the pros- 
pects of the next half-hour for ail the pearls and 
peacocks of Araby--no, hot if you offered me 
the Peace of Europe l Europe be bloxvedl I 
xvant my bath. 
You see, it's like this : The corps H.Q. moved 
to a different area some days ago, preceded by us. 
Everything in the area left in an utterly un- 
orgalfized, uncatalogued condition. We have to 
tear round and find out vhere the various divi- 
sions can go. 
And we have Æot to find room for more divi- 
sions than have cver occupicd this area before. 
Uscless to corne back and report that such and 
such villages have no water for nlcn or horses. 
The water has got tobe round. Dig for it. 
Organize fatîguc-parties and dig. Data up little 
trickles by the roadside until quite large ponds 
are formed. Get the engineers and pioneers on 
toit. Labour battalions--anything. So l've 
31 



LEFTERS TO HELEN 

been riding nmdly about, and l'in like a treacle 
puddiug in a sand-storm. 
The bath l Hale, you are a most excelleut 
fellow. That'll do splendidly. Have you got 
my towel ? . . . IN'rERWI ..... And now, dear 
ti'ieds, itis another man that you see belote you. 
A mauwhohashad a bath. Amanlesslike a 
bit of oily motor-waste, and more like Sir George 
Alexander. This delicious coffee, too l A bowl 
of it, made by Mme. Vhatever-her-name-is. I 
take it up in both hands and quaffit. Here's to 
You and to Home, and to Everybody--and (just 
to show there's no ill feeling) here's to the poor 
old Boche ! 

Julff 29. 

In the saine cottage. 
It's very hot. Alnmunition lorries go by in an 
endless string, making the deuee of a dust. But 
we are 1hr away from guns and gun food and 
noise. I got leave to go up to  yesterday. 
I do dislike noise so, don't you ? The lmise of 
a battery in action is diabolieal, and the very 
thought of it makes me shiver. There go the 
senseless lorries, ail paeked with musie for a more 
hellish orehestra than you tan remotely imagine. 
The first few bars are enough to drive you nearly 
frantie. It's unholy. It seems to split your 



GUNS AT FRICOURT 

head and tear your ears out of their sockets. 
Can you understand a noise that hits you ? Hits 
tmbearably, and then again. Crashes on to you. 
Bangs your boncs out of your skin, till you feel 
dazcd and siek. 
Still the lorries go by. 

Mugust 3. 
I hear the General doesn't like Svallow, so 
there's a good chame of |ris returning. Vhen 
you get angT¢ with Sw«dlow, he loses control of 
his legs altogether, and they all fly about in every 
direction. He is quite like Rinaldo in character, 
--not so perpetually fidgcty, but as nervous, and 
more easily frightened. Jczebel is showing her 
worth now like a Trojan. She knows she has to 
make up for the loss of Swallow (whom I think 
she rather misses). She is bchaving splcndidly. 
She is blatantly well, and obeys ail orders like 
clockwork ; never tired ; always hungry--a 
model. The other mare, Moonlight, a dark 
brown, seems robe somehow exhausted. I think 
she has had a very hard time of it, and has been 
wounded in the foot. Her foot is all right now, 
but she seems to have no lire left in her. The 
war bas utterly beaten hcr. H unt is grazing and 
grooming and petting her ail day. So she may 
pick up. At present she is somehow rather 
:33 D 



I,ETTERS TO HELEN 

pathetic. She was with the Indian cavalry before 
sbe got wounded. And then she went to a 
veterinary hospital. She is well ruade, and may 
possibly brighten up. Hullt declares that she 
has "lost ail her courage." l'm glad l'm not a 
horse. 

,lug'u«t 5. 
This is such an amazing country and in such an 
amazing condition. I could collect a Harrod's 
Stores in a day--interesting and useful things, too. 
But it's impossible to carry things about. One 
daren't overload the horses, and one daren't over- 

load the transport. Both are so heavy ladeu, as 
it is. 
The signal job is quite interesting, really, 
and the Colonel gives me an absolutely free 
lmnd. 

Jezebel and Co. are driven distracted by the 
horse-flies. I took Jezebel into a stream to-day, 
but she started fo sit downl So the flies must 
just bite, I fear. Large grey brutes. 
Hunt ruade me laugh so last night. I was 
looking round the horses with Edward. They 
were waiting fo be fed with tbeir evening hay. To 
my surprise and pleasure, Moonlight suddenly 
neighed. "Evidently getting her appetite back," 
I remarked. " Oh yes, sir," says Hunt ; "several 
34 



JEZEBEL IN ONE OF HER MOODS 
rimes l've caught her ]ollerin' for her meals 
lately !" Isn't that a lovely expression ? 
Hunt is such a good chap. He thinks nothing 
of "abroad," but a lot of the "'osses," as he calls 
them. I found him what seemed to me a very 
nice loft to sleep in when we got here. But no : 
" I'd rather sleep with my 'osses, sir, thank you." 
And he sleeps practically under their noses. 
" You see, sir, the mare might get one of her 
moods on." 
He is getting very fond of Jezebel now, and 
whenever she errs, he attributes the error fo one 
of her moods. 
She toreher nosebag to pieces the other day ; 
whether because she was hungry and it was empty, 
or because if amused her, or because she was being 
bitten by a fly, I don't know. No one seems 
to have seen her doit. " One of her moods," 
says Hunt ; and that's ail there is to be said about 
the incident. 
5Iy dear, this country is most enchanting. Far 
away from nasty noises, full of unexpected 
wooded valleys and willowy streams. 
Ail the little shrines are, as usual, surrounded 
by half-clipped trees. 
And the wild-flowers. Clear pale blue succory 
is the most charming of all, and I am going fo 
send you some plants as soon as they have ceased 
flowering. 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

M ug'ust 6. 
You cau't think how difficult itis to take any 
interest in military matters sometilnes. The 
ilmlination to let things slide. The feeling that 
an order is hot so terrifying as it once was ; that, 
a{er ail, who will know or bother if one firtive 
subaltern (.reeps out one evening to sketeh ? 

M ugT«st 8. 
Do yon know, it's tmiltellig'elt, but I do 
enjoy being here away ri'oin the revers of war. 
Var is getting tedious, and the summer is all too 
short. 
Swallow is eoming baek. Isn't it splendid! 
The General fin(ls him too irritating and tiresome. 
Jezebel will be glad. for she doesn't like the ghost- 
horse Moonlight, and she never really disliked 
Swallow. I ean't say she liked him, beeause she 
likes no one. dear lamb. But she used to look on 
Swallow with rather less suspicion, somehow. 
And Swallow has a habit of licking that she 
approves of. I have often seen her snap at hiln 
even while he is licking her; but he always 
contimmsafter a moment. I think it soothes ber 
when the flies are tiresome. 
This place has a beautiful church, which I have 
drawn. It's quite an unusually charming bit of 
the country. 
s6 



DOMART 

Aug,ust 11. 
Jezebel did sueh an astonishing thing yesterday. 
I was out vith the signallers practising. We 
didn't want the bother of holding or picketing the 
horses. So I ordered " off-saddle," and then put 
a guard over the disused quarry where I had 
decided to leave them. The quan'y had a -assy 
floor, and walls of chalk that in one place vere 
only about 7 foot high. .lezebel has been so good 
(for her)lately, that I determined to leave her 
vith the other horses. They were stripped of ail 
bridles and saddles and things, and had heaps of 
room to wander. 
Meanvhile we were carrying on with our 
Presently shouts ri'oto the guard. I went back 
to sec what was the marrer. My dear, Jezebel 
had tried to jump out of the quarry I 
She had tried twice, but the sides were too 
steep aud high, and she had slipped back. When 
I arfived, she was quietly grazing as if nothing 
had happened. Ah, but wait. This is hot all. 
Later on in the morning another hooroosh. A 
loud squealing and sounds of kicking. One of her 
moods again, I thought to myself grimly. That 
well-known voice. I should recognize her squeal 
anywhere. As I was going tovards the quarry 
with Coworal Dutton to get her tied up or else 
7 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
hobbled, lo and beholdl the two guards had 
vanished. " Vhat the devil . . ." And all of a 
sudden out pour the horses careering downhill 
like mad! It was so appalling that Coïporal 
Dutton and I just stood and shouted with 
laughter. 
My dear, if there is anything in the whole 
world that goads a Major, a Brigadier, or any 
other military nan, to fury and madlmsS, itis a 
loose horse. 
Imagine, then, forty-four horses all riderless, 
without saddles or bridles (and theïcfore ahnost 
impossible to catch), stampeding straight into a 
corps H.Q. village. This village is crawling with 
Generals I 
Vrell, in the end we eaught theln ail, and by 
some dazzling piece of luck, for whieh Allah be 
praised, no General, no Colonel, nor anyone else, 
seems to have got wind of the incident. Subal- 
terns, yes, and I mn sumptuously ragged about 
it. But how all the Generals and things hap- 
pened to be out of sight and hearing at the rime, 
I don't know. And still this is not the cream of 
the eomedy. 
After giving orde for rounding up the animals, 
I went on to the quarry with Corporal Dutton. 
My dear, There was Jezebcl grazing, as cool as a 
c«w, umber ! 
She still further insulted me by coming up and 



ANOTHER MOVE NORTHVARDS 

trying to push her nose into lny pocket, where I 
sometimes keep an apple for her. 
The guards, you see, had instantly gone in to 
get her away froln the horse she was kicking, 
when we first heard the commotion. The other 
horses had mooned out of the entrance gap, and 
then, I suppose, something--a fly, perhaps--had 
frightened theln, and off they had galloped. 
Vhile "the accursed felnale," as ve sometimes 
call Jezebel, too sensible to stalnpede, quietly 
continued feeding. I shall never be taken in by 
her air of innocence again. NeTer. I don't a 
bit mind saying I vas decidedly alarmed. That 
mare might have been responsible for the death 
of the Corps Comnlallder. 
O Jezebel, I wish I could get angry with you 
alld give you a jolly good hidig one day. But 
you know I Calft, you dear old thing. I'm 
writing this in the orchard, where the H.Q. horses 
live, and Jezebel is standing sleepily in the shade 
of her tree. She looks intensely stupid. She 
occasionally tries to flick avay a fly with her 
short rail. Occasionally she sighs deeply, vith 
that blubbery, spluttery noise that ail horses 
make when they sigh. 

M ugust 15. 
On the move. This is our first day's trek, and 
we are ata place where ve have been belote- 
39 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

but not the saine billets. I ara in a cottage with 
an earth floor (whieh looks very odd with a 
hideous drab-eoloured wall-paper), and small 
ehildren and hens, both dirty, wander in and out 
of lny room. It's too hot to keep the door 
latehed. A swallow's nest in the room next 
door; and tbe peop[e say that, although the 
young have flown, they still return at night. 

.)ugusl 19. 
The Adjurant is away, and WOll't bc returning 
for solne time; so I alll still aeting. _And this, 
together witb signal work, etc., is somewhat 
arduous. I live all day in the "oflïee," a very 
small bivouac in a green field. There I sit pray- 
ing for inspiration, when letters eolne in luarked 
Urgent, beginning somethilg like this : 
" LP 657042- -G1. 
" Ref. your memo HC/5] 6342, L12 of 13 8, 16, 
please find A.F. 361B for eompletion and 
immediate return." 

And I haven't the least idea what I said in 
my memo HC/516342/I,12 of 13/8/16, and I 
can't find any record of it. And I can't for the 
lire of me make out how ] ara mcant to fill in 
A.F. 361B, because I haven't the least idea what 
it's all about. 
40 



BEHIND KEMMEL 

l ugust 26. 
hnpossible to write yesterday, and only a brief 
scrawl to-day. 
The rcgimcnt is being scattercd over the face 
of the eartb--an O.P. here, ail O.P. there; a 
digging-party here, a draining-party thcre, etc., 
etc., etc. ; not to lnention a fev on duty as 
military police pro rem, others guarding bomb 
shcltcrs, othcrs reconnoitrilag new areas for new 
divisions, etc. I)enlfiS is vcry badly wounded. 
He can't be movcd yet. Solne bits of shell went 
iltO his thigh, up his back, and ifs hot certain 
yet whether it entered his lungs or hot. They 
are afraid so. He was on his tmnmy at an O.P. 
A crump got him. Dear old Dennis I I hope 
he'll pull round. Also Cive is very seriously 
WOulded, I fear. Danml 

l ugust 27. 
I am Acting Adjurant now. An AdjutalWs 
job is a most hairy job, and I sit with drops of 
perspiration dripping offmy brow all day. Never 
see the horses, never gct any exercise except for 
a moment or two. 

.4 ugust .'29. 
We are probably going to move again soon, 
and consequently the alnount of correspoadence 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
is vast. Clive is better, I think. Dennis about 
the saine. I suppose a thing can go into your 
lung and hot kill you ? 

çeptember 2. 
The Colonel seemed (from a telcgram he sent 
yestcrday morning) to bc in a grcat hurry for me 
to corne clown to thc othcr squadron. So I 
dccidcd to go by train, and scnd Hunt with thc 
horscs. And this is thc train journcy. 
The station at- qnite rccovcrcd and tidy 
after a fccblc strafing thc othcr day. Evcn two 
or thrcc civilians travclling. Not many of thc 
militry--a hundrcd or so, pcrhaps, all waiting 
and smoking idly, cach armcd with his " Movc- 
lnent Ordcr." Thc dull boom of guns not exces- 
sive, though thcrc's a frcqucnt " plom! plom! 
plom 1" of thc Archics, and the sky is dottcd with 
clustcrs of prctty littlc shrapncl clouds. Somc- 
rimes the crack I crack I crack I crack ! oflnachilm 
guns high up in thc bluc. It makcs you fcel 
slightly homcsick. I don't quitc know why. 
That sort of thing isn't done at home. 
In cornes the train. The Frcnch station 
officials ail in a paroxysm of cxcitcmcnt bccausc 
onc Tomlny throws down a gas hchnct for thc 
train to run over. Up ve clambcr. Hale hcavcs 
up valise and coat and so forth, and retires to a 



THROUGH HAZEBROUCK 

"third," xvhile I feel a beast lounging in this 
luxurious " first." Off we go, and I look out af 
all the familiar country. 
There's one of those quaint French notices in 
the carriage : 

TASEZ-VOUS l 
IÉFIEZ-VOUS ! 
LEs OllEII,I,ES ENNEMIES VOUS ÉCOUTENT 

Ail too necessary, they tell lne. 
Later.-- If is getting dark. We stop af a large 
town that I know well. Two hours fo wait. 
turn in fo a Follies show. There is usually one 
going on, run by this or tiret division, all soldiers, 
but looking vel T odd in their paint and ruffles. 
But what a curious concert. The first l've seen 
out here. The confie Scot vastly popular ; but 
even more so are hideously sentimental songs all 
about the last bugle and death and my dead 
fi'iends under the earth and eternal sleep. You 
know ? However, they love if, and the dislnal 
piano beats a tinny accompanilnent. 
Staff oeers even are here, and I recognize one 
Somerset ; also Grey, who was in the Gun section 
with Dennis and me, now a Captain. Delightful 
talking over old rimes. 
Later.--Into the train again. On the platform 
43 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
beforchaud I meet a gunner subaltern. We talk. 
He's very vell read, and interested in lots of the 
things l love so much. We discuss the war. 
He knows a lot of the billets I know. Evidently 
we havc nearly met out here often before. That 
is that book he is reading ? Richard Jefferies ? 
From .leff'eries to 51aeterlinck. V:hat has become 
of him ? ar so foreign to that mystic mind. 
Yet his beautififi abbey in Flanders must be in 
the hands of Fritz, if it still exists at ail. We 
talk fbr about two hours. Then he gets out at 
I don't know what his arome is, and very 
likcly I won't ever lneet him again. But out 
here one makes fricnds quickly. There are so 
many of us ail in the saine boat. And one hardly 
expccts ever to lneet again. Then (alone in the 
carriage) I doze. The electric light in full blaze, 
and no curtains are do»vn. Stations rather like 
bad dreams. Soldiers everywhere. A great 
clanking of horse-trucks and gun-carriages. Vast 
stores of tituber for huts. Bookstalls open all 
night. These trains seem to hoot and whistle 
most horribly. Far more noisy than English 
trains, surely. That, combined with all the 
shouting and clatter of trollies, etc., rather racking 
in the small hours. At 5 a.m. we arrive at , 
where we all change. 
Later.No one allowed outside the station 
except oiTicers and sergeants. But, dash it all, 
44 



ABBEVILLE 

I can't leave Hale here the whole day. Our train 
leaves at 8.36 to-night. The R.T.O. will be here 
at 7 a.m. Let's see what we ean vork. Meanwhile 
(5.30) the platformless station is till of mcn, who 
have just dumped themselves and their kits 
down where they stood. The¥ haven't finished 
sleeping. It looks like a battle-field. They lie 
in every attitude, officers among them. Hale is 
eating ri-oin his bully-beef tin in silence. A 
arien stand round a Y.M.C.A. stall drinking cotfee 
or eating chocolate, cake, and stutI: 
Later.--I got Hale out, and took him to see 
the cathedral. He said he thought it must bave 
cost a lot of money. Not a bad criticism, either. 
Then I let him go his own vay, and now it's 
1.45 p.m. Had a eharming luneh--two œufs h la 
coque, thé, and croissants. Noxv I'm sitting by 
the side of the river--very peaeeful. There's a 
xvhite goat on the other bank, and its refleetion 
is dancing gently ail the rime. 
Several Freneh widows are talking together 
near the goat, their black veils hanging fimereally; 
and there's a small boy with soeks and a bowler 
hat, all black, too. Poor dears 1 
Good heavens alive I there's George I He has 
just flashed by in a ear, red cap and all. If only 
there had been rime to hail himl Now for a 
sleep till it's rime for tea. 

5 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

September 5. 
This is a part of the line I don't know af ail, a 
most exciting area. I bave been up several rimes 
into what is by the xvay of being out front line, 
but the whole thing is so chaotic that often the 
Huns corne into out trenches and we go into 
theirs quite by mistake. 
I have several rimes gone rig'ht across the open, 
within full view of Fritz (vhom I could see), at a 
distance of 600 yards. I think they must ail be 
very confused, also, as there is very little rifle tire 
and very little organized sniping. Nothing but 
shelling, with the result that for lniles and toiles 
there's just tumbled earth. 
The famous woods you read about are mere 
scratchy little collections of a few tree-stumps 
splintered and wrecked beyond belief. Things 
lie scattered everywhere in aimless profusion. 
Muddy rifles, coats, boots, and e'ery description 
of kit, both British and Hun. I ha'e met lots 
of lUen I know, and everyone is very cheery and 
hopeful. Fritz is withdrawing lais big guns-- 
always a good sign. However, the myriads of 
prisoners nearly all look a sound type of man 
still. They are put fo work a long way behind 
the line immediately, which is good. 

6 



THE SOMME FRONT 

September 7. 
Ve have been for some rime right up in parts 
quite destitute of bouses and villages alld shops. 
Ail the remnants of villages here are ruils. And 
messing is eonsequently more diflïeult. So may 
I have a large-sized cake nov and then ? 
The war isn't over yet, I fear. Ve lire in the 
usual toueh-and-go condition. 

September 8. 
Things huln. Troops like ants all over the 
ground. In tents, in bivvies, in the open, every- 
where. And the eternal chain of motor lorries 
bringing up alnmunition and supplies. These 
one sees all over France. But here they block 
haff the roads. Vell, yesterday lnorning I rode 
out alone with the Colonel and two orderlies. 
SVe went to some high ground fronl which you 
ean see it all, dislnounted, and sent the horses 
baek. In front of us, in the valley, a wreeked 
towl with the strangest thing on the still-standing 
tower. I hope to make a pieture of it if ever I 
ean get any rime again. 
Later in the day ri'oto one of our O.P.'s I 
began a sketeh of the whole panorama of the 
battle. Desolate ragged country, torn with shell 
wounds; the poor seareerow trees like arms 
stretehed up to heaven for help. Fields that 
47 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

once were golden with corn nov grey and scarred 
with white trenehes that look like a network of 
pale worms lying where they died. 
Now, from another O.P. l'm looking at the 
arid chaos below. Arid and lonely-looking, but 
hot silent. A strafe is on. Seems to be getting 
louder and more continuous. We passed on out 
vay here a great naval gun crashing out death 
to the burrowing Huns. Swallow doesn't like 
From flimsy net shelters flash the expensive 
guns, and the boinbardment gathers strength, 
gathers volume, until you'd think something must 
burstthe world or the universe : either might 
split from end to end. The dust and smoke are 
gradually making everything invisible. Crumps 
corne whistling and heaving up great elouds of 
heavy blaekness. Ve look at our watches. Zero 
hour in rive nfinutes. The aeroplanes buzzing 
aloft, and the sausages sitting among the low 
clouds, incrt and so vulnerable-looking. Can 
there be auything left ? Can a single soul iive . 

'ptember 9. 
Surely we shall get through. Even in spire of 
the rain. The tain bas ruade the country into a 
quagmire. 
Recolmoitred the front trenches to-day with 
the Colonel, in a particular part where everything 
48 



TRENCHES BETWEEN FR1- 
COURT AND LA BOISELI.E 
They don't look much like trenches, be- 
cause they were battered to pieces. A 
'dump' on the near horizon was hit by a 
Boche shell. It blazed and crackled and 
smouldered ail night, a drifiing column of 
duli pink smoke. 



DELVILLE VOOD 
is at sixes and sevens, and no one quite knows 
what we haven't or have got. Most odd. Shells 
of all .ealibres bursting on every side--eorpses, 
odours unspeakable. 
You see, things are expeeted to happen soon, 
and so l'In anxious to know all about it. This 
part of the line is terrifie. 
Vhere we are, and ibr lniles and toiles around, 
myriads of troops, cavalry, artillery, everything, 
all camped in the open--no conceahnent. Mud ? 
XVhy, everyone is lnud, up to file eyes, and so 
are the horses. This big movement has quite 
dislocated the ordinary trench warfare, and now 
all over the dreary uplands are trenches hurriedly 
dug by the Hun and then abandoned. Trenches 
that often bally shelter you above the knees. 
Chaos, chaos. Rifles lying to rust in the mud, 
duds everywhee, men sitting in dug-outs, not 
knowing what they are expected to do next. 
Others in mere scratched-out shelters or in actual 
shell holes. Sometimes they sing. Often they are 
asleep. Vreckage indescribable. Shrapnel crack- 
ing into black elouds close by. Enormous and 
lnagnificent H.E.'s hurling up black earth and 
red earth, and slnoke that driffs slowly and solidly 
away to limbo. Poor dead men lying abont, and 
dead horses, too. And in the trenches this linit- 
less porridge of mud. Cr-r-r-ulnp! go the 
crumps searching out a battery. But oh the 
¢9 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

woods--the poor scarecrow woods. I was in a 
falnous »vood that looked positively devilish in 
its sinister nakedness. And it's September, too, 
when woods are so often at their loveliest. Not 
a leaf---not one single leaf; and, instead of undcr- 
ga'owth, just tossed earth, fises, a boot, a coat, 
some wire, and above-ground dead lnen. Below- 
ground (or as far beloxv as they can get in the 
rime) live men. 
The Boche dug-outs are marvellous. They are 
really works of aloE. So solidly, even bcautifllly 
built. I went into one that had wooden pillars 
supporting the roof like some baronial hall, with 
neat little cupboards, tables, beds, and everything 
complete. Ïhere were two of out 51.5I.G. 
otticers sleeping there, and we left theln sleeping. 
But emerge out into daylight, and ye gods I the 
confusion makes you feel awed. A village is 
usually a heap of rubble, with here and there a 
bit of a gaudy elmmelled coffee-pot or something ; 
a geralfiUln from a window, still growing ; a china 
egg, a bit of a chair, a bit of an iron gateway. 
And as far as the eye can see in tlfis particular 
region, just undulating stretches of tormented 
earth. Ail the old gaine of never shoxving above 
the parapet is quite disregarded, for often there 
is no parapet. Ïime after rime the Huns could 
have seen us, and I saw lots of them rulming 
across gaps. You see, no sniping or anything like 
50 



TOIYARDS FLERS 

that can be ol'ganized yet. Huns often colne into 
our lines by mistake, and we do likewise. And 
when you are not actually in close view of them, 
you go across the open. If you get eut off by a 
barrage you just wait till it's over. 
I have been round all out M.G. positions and 
other Detachments. 

,çeptember 10. 
About 5 p.m. the mess cook came and said he 
had been unable to get enough food in for the 
morrow, as the expeeted hampers fl'om England 
had hOt arrived, and the district was so paeked 
with other troops. So we. deeided to get some 
hares or partridges. But it's forbidden to shoot 
game. Very well, we vouldn't shoot them. 
re'd mde them down. The eountry behind is 
entirely open. No hedges. Just gently undu- 
lating uplands. Ïhe erops are all eut. So three 
of us set out. The orderly-room Vol'k had ahnost 
been finished, mad the remainder eould wait. 
Jezebel vas brought round for me, Chloe for 
Roger, and Minotaur for the Colonel. The 
Colonel's orderly, Corporal Orehard, following on 
Shotover. Ve rode baek to the more open 
country where there are few troops, and then 
started the drive. Jezebel on the right, Chloe 
next, Shotover next, and Minotaur on the leff, at 
intervals of "20 yards or so. 
51 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

It had been decided that, if a hare got up, even 
while we were after partridges, we lnust chase the 
hare. 
'Ve]l, present]y a covey got up, aud away we 
galloped up a log slope. Suddenly a wild tally- 
ho from Roger. A hare had got up and was 
lepping across Jezebel's line. So Jezebel fairly 
flattened herself out to keep the hare in. But the 
haro was across before she could get wide enough. 
Then the hare doubled back and we swung 
round, so that now Minotaur was on the right. 
Hooroosh down the hill. The hare vas gaining. 
There was a nfinute brick enclosure a quarter of 
a toile ahead. The hare was making for that. 
And gained it. Check. We surrouuded the en- 
closure and Corporal Orchard dismounted and 
went in. After about ten minutes out popped 
the hare on t'other side. Loud yells, and after 
her again. She ruade for some high ground where 
there was a small wood. " Cut her off," signalled 
the Colonel wildly. 
Impossible to cut off the hare. She gained the 
wood, which we surrounded. But, oh silly hare ! 
she came out the other side. Minotaur after her 
like an arrow. 
Then she tried to get away across Jezebel s 
front. But Jezebel was too quick, and Chloe 
came up in support. 
Then the hare doubled again through Shotover 
5 



CHASING THE HARE 
and Minotaur, and we swung about. The hare 
was getting tired. She had run about three mlles. 
She then doubled back again through Chloe and 
Jezebel. 
But meamvhile the horses were ail getting dark 
with sweat, and although a lov line of upland hid 
us, we knew we were approaching some reserve 
vire. Tlle hare must hot gain that wire. 
She vas dead beat and going very slow, flopping 
along, and looked as if she would tumble head 
over heels any second. We were close behind 
her. 
She got into some long grass 0 yards away 
fi'on the wire, and disappeared from view. We 
had got lier. Corporal Orehard disnounted and 
began beating the grass for lier. There ! Just 
lnissed her. She flopped on a few yards, and 
Corporal Orehard dashed after. Then he tripped 
and fell. The hare came out of eover and lolloped 
tovards the wire. Yells ri'oto Roger and the 
Colonel. 
And the hare g'ot there.first ! 
Inwardly I laughed with joy and relief. Thank 
goodness that little hare got away. Corporal 
Orchard took over the horses, and we went 
in amongst the wire, but we never found lier. 
The weeds had grown tall, and were perfee cover 
for the poor wee beastie. I sometimes say what I 
think, but such views are naturally neither under- 
58 



LETTER$ TO HELEN 

stood nor taken seriously. And the Major, bless 
him I likes me to do this type of thing because he 
thinks itis good for me. "We must really try 
and teach you to be more of a sportsman, 
you know. Sporting instinct. Vhat ? Every 
Englishman should have it 1" Ïhis ail very good- 
humouredly, and I answer, laughing : " Aha, 
sir. You sec I know better." Vhich mere]y 
stirs some jovial spirit to stand up and propose: 
"Gentlemen, fox-hunting !" ¥ou sec . 

Septem ber 1 . 
The next aet will shortly begin. Ve are ail 
very hopeful. Certain signs. . . Fritz very 
nervous. Of that there ean be no doubt at ail. 
Prisoners betray it quite unwillingly. Poor 
Fritz! He cornes to attention when we go up 
to him and ask him if he is fairly happy, which 
he is (with a smile) invariably. He talks good 
English, and wishes the war would end. 
Some of out machine gulmcrs, inc]uding Clare. 
were donc in the other day, and they put up a 
biscuit tin, with their names pierced in with lmil 
holes, to mark the spot. This war is the quaintest, 
most incongruous show. 

Septembcr 15. 
Zero hour has corne and gone. The show is a 
peach. Fritz is scuttling back with us on his rail. 



TOWARDS GEUDECOURT 
We are to creep up, and as soon as Fritz is beyond 
his last line of trenches (which he jolly nearly is 
now) up and through we hope to go. 

September 20. 
We are long past Fritz's first line; past lais 
second line ; ai his third line ; and lais fourth line 
he is wildly digging nov--plaees for lais M.G.'s 
wire, etc. But he's very, very hard put t0 if. 
We have ahnost ail thehigh ground. Our guns 
«tre at it day and nigbt. Trelmb warfitre no longer 
exists. A fev hastily dug holes, a few short lines 
of treneh, mostly battered to pieces, and that's 
ail. It's ahnost open fighting. Even the infantry 
eome up aeross tbe open. No communication 
trenehes, notbingof that sort. The erump holes 
are eontinuous. Tbere's seareely an ineb of 
ground tiret isn't a erump hole. 
1 was up in an interesting wood this morning 
with the Colonel. Now, this will give you some 
idea of how disloeated and above-ground every- 
thing is : 
SVe wanted to go to a place the other side of 
the wood. SVhen we reaehed the middle of the 
wood, where a nev O.P. of ours has been estab- 
lished, Fritz put up a barrage on the edge of the 
wood. Very well, then. Ve just waited at the 
O.P. till the barrage was over, and then calmly 
55 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
walked out. The wood is only a few shattered 
stumps of trees, and the place where undergrowth 
once was is one continuous sea of earth thrown 
about in every couceivable shape, with dead 
Tommies and dead Fritzes lying side by side. So 
the wood isn't much cover, you can imagine. 
On the far side of the wood is bcautiful rolling 
country, but hot green. It's all brown, just a 
mess ofearth. It's pitted with holesjust like sand 
after a hailstol'ln. In the distance you can see 
real lovely trees, but nothing grows where the 
strafing is. Overhead the martins flicker and 
swoop, ;md starlings sail by in circling clouds, 
while thc coh)ssal noises crash and boom away 
merrily. 
Ought I, perhaps, hot to talk of these things ? 
Does it worry you to think of crumps bursting 
and so on ? But, really, it seems quite ordinary 
and in the day's work here. 5len talk of crumps 
as you would talk of bread and butter. That is, 
perhaps, why letters from home that talk about 
homely things--cows and lavender and the new 
chintz--are so welcome. 
Besides, good heavens! don't you knov that 
there's lot a mal in France but knows that the 
best-beloved ones at home are having a far worse 
rime than we are having here ? Vet clothes ? 
5Iud . Shells a-bursting, guns a-popping ? Even 
a wound, perhaps ? Pish I No one thit's at all 
56 



TEAR SHELLS 

out here. There isn't rime. Most of the people 
out here are perfeetly happy and merry, really. 
The sort of "long-draxwa-out-agony" toueh is, 
I think, rare. 
I'm writing tbis in a jolly Boehe dug-out, all 
panelled and eosy. .lezebel and Swallow and a 
new pack mare l've got are in a valley that's 
lmrdly ever touehed, and in fine, all's well. 

5"eptember 24. 
Tear shells or "lachrymatory shells." They 
haven't been putting manyover lately, apparently. 
But they put some over the other day, and they 
are so amusing that I must describe tbem to 
you. 
The Colonel and I xvere up trying to find a 
"working-party" from tbe regiment. Ïhe regi- 
ment is sadly split up at present into various 
parties doing various jobs in various plaees, all 
unpleasant. Better tlmn infantry work, but still 
unpleasant. 
'Ve rode up mueh eloser tban we have fidden 
before, and left the Colonel's orderlv and Hale 
in a bit of a valley vith Minotaur, Jezebel, Hob, 
and Tank. Tank is a new lnare l've got. 
Hale was riding her, as I never take Swallow 
eloser than I ean help. 
IVe dismounted in this small valley, and the 
7 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
Coloncl's orderly and Hale were giveu orders 
to more if any shells were put over too near 
them. 
Then the Colonel and I went up through a 
vood that is just a fev splintered stumps nmv. 
IVe passed behind several batteries, and I 
thought to lnyself: " Dash it all! I knov my 
eyes can't be watering because of the noise. 
Vhat the deuce is the nmtter? I hope the 
Colonel won't notice.' 
Hovever, on we vaded and plodded. Sud- 
denly the Colonel stopped, and exclailned : " Oh 
dalnnation I This is perfect nonsense."His eyes 
were like tomatoes, and the tears were rolling 
down his cheeks I 
By this time ve couhl hardly see at ail, and it 
dawned on us that we must hastily put on our 
tear goggles, which we had never used before, 
but always, of course, carry. ïhey go in the 
satchel along vith the two gas hehnets. 
Presently we met some infantry coming back, 
all safely begoggled. The Huns, they told us, 
were dropping tear shells just hato that valley 
in front, vhere out working-party was supposed 
to be. You tan tcll them (the tear shells), 
they said, by the flutteriug sound, and they 
knock up no earth and make very little smoke. 
Sure enough, as soon as ve got over the brow 
there they were. They nmke a foolish wobbly, 
58 



BETVEEN HIGH VOOD AND FLERS 

wavy sound as they corne over, and look most 
innocent. So they are really if you get your 
goggles on in rime. But if one bursts close to 
you, and you haven't got goggles on, why, then 
you'll be as blind as an owl, and you'll weep like 
a shower bath. 
Then the absurd thing was that we couldn't 
find the working-party. Plenty of dead Huns, 
but nobody alive. Nota sign. Only crumps 
dropping here and there and everywhere. So 
we found a bit of a trench that led back round 
the side of the wood. The front line trenches 
were only very lightly held, partly because they 
are ahnost completely blown in. And we could 
get no information as to the working-party at all. 
Presently we saw why. The Huns had put 
up a bmwage across the valley they were coming 
up. re knew they would come up this other 
valley, as they had to report on their vay to 
H.Q.,  Division. So we got into a hole and 
vaited. 
After about half an hour the barrage lifted and 
up came out working-party none the worse. It 
is a most amazing var. People literally dodge 
shells and things as you migllt dodge snow-balls. 
Vhen we m-rived back at the place xvhere we 
left our two lnen, they also were hot tobe seen. 
After some rime and anxious inquiries for 
two men vith four horses, we at last discovered 
59 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

them nearly hall a lnile away. Fritz had put 
some heavy stuff over fairly near, and they had 
moved. 
" A very interesting bit of the line isn't it, 
Hale ?" I said as we moved oiT. " 'es, sir," he 
said, adding with a tierce t'rowll, '* but hot very 
sa]ë, sir." 
And then we ail ]mtghed. Hale does frow so 
when he lnakes one of his oracular utteraces. 

S«p&'mber 29. 
[t's up to us to recommitre carefldly every 
rime thcre is a more forward, so as to see the new 
ground. 
One of the most curious and interesting things 
is this : the Boche rarely wastes. He only purs 
his crunaps and pip-squeaks just where he thinks 
(or knows) out batteries are, and out infantry 
want to be, and out horses would be likely to 
be (if they weren't SOlnewhere else). So that 
graduallyyou begin to track out sale routes. 
Don't go near the edge of -- Vood, but 200 
yards inside the wood, on thc north side, you're 
pretty comfy. Don't go near the mangled 
remains of -- village, but keep to the right of it 
until you get to the wrecked acroplane, and then 
turn down the relnains of--trench, and you 
probably won't be touched. That sort of thing. 
60 



BOCIIE DUG-OUTS 

l've bcen sleeping in the most superb Boehe 
dug-out. Very deep; I should think 0 feet 
dowll. The inside is pillared rather like the 
studio, alld eretotmed all over with lllarool- 
eoloured stuff instead of wall-paper. There are 
lovely little cupboards everywhere, and doors and 
window-fi'alues just like a real house. The 
windows, of course, only look out on to an air- 
shaft, so it's very dark, and you have to have 
eandles all tlte tilne. The windows have no glass, 
of course, as that would be shattered to smither- 
eens by the vibrations. Then there's an areh and 
more steps down lower still, into the bedroom 
for two. 
Yesterday, being rather misty, I thought as 
ibllows : 
" It is too foggy to see vhat Fritz is doing. 
No attack is intended or expected. The Colonel 
is at corps H.Q. Swallow and Jezebel and Tank 
are sale in  vallcy. Roger is still here as 
Adjutant. Vhy hot an aternoon off. v' 
So pieture a holiday-lnaker armed with a re- 
volver, two gas hellets, tear goggles, some sand- 
wiches, and a large elnpty haversaek. Now where 
to go ? Vhat about-- treneh and all round 
village, even, perhaps, a lightning rive 
minutes in the village itseli'? Ve have just 
taken the village, but it's rather an unhealthy 
spot at present. 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

 trench is a new trench that poor Fritz 
dug just before he was driven out of it. I had 
seen lots of dead Fritzes there the day before. 
Also there were reports of eurious things flung 
out into the mud iii and round the village. 
So I set forth. Aud at -- nlet almther fellow 
I knew, and the attitir beealne neither more nor 
less than a seareh for souvenirs. Here is a list : 
1. A few buttons with double-tailed lions. 
2. Four shoulder-straps with the figure (; in red. 
This indieated a division which has been opposite 
us tbr some tilne and is quite exhausted, I think. 
a. One haversaek alld one respirator haver- 
saek. 
4. One rosary. 
5. Five different SOloES of bayollets from dif- 
ferent regiments. These I thought we nlight 
hang up. 
6. Fore- tassels. They are worn by Fritz 
rather lu the sanie sort of way as lanyards are 
worn. Quite pretty, though rather soiled aud 
vorn. 
7. A bit of a wing of a erushed aeroplane that 
is lying on the brown, feverish earth like a dead 
sea-gull. 
8. A brass spring very beautifully made, that 
I ara going to have ruade into a bracelet for you. 
Also from the aeroplane. 
9. A eardboard box for signal flares. Sig'tal 
6,0 



TROPHIES 

Patroncn they are labelled. I threw the flares 
away, as they nlight go pop en route. 
10. A jolly bit of gilded carving from a housc 
in -- 
ll. Now then for No. 111 A bit of em- 
broidcry. I thiDk itis a vestment of sorts. It's 
whitc, and thcre's hcavy gold cmbroidery at the 
sides. Itis a cloak of some description, but file 
top part, where thcre should bca collar or some- 
thiug, is gode. Theu l lA is a picce of black 
and silvcr cmbroidcry. It was all very muddy 
and riddled with shrapDcl or bits of crump, so I 
just cut off thc only souDd bit. Both thoee 
things are excecdingly beautiful. Thcy are prob- 
ably vestments, because they were quite near 
what must have becn the church. I ara sure it 
must havc bcen thc church, although I hadn't a 
map--first, because I saw the village in the dis- 
ta)cc somc rime ago, while the church was still 
stauding, and thcrcfore I know the church's 
situation ; aud, secondly, bccause I saw rcmains 
of large pillars, aDd a few bits of what was once 
a foDt alnOngst the débris. 
Thcrc now. IsD't that a good haull It's not 
easy to get anything worLh scndiDg home, bccause 
everything is so uttcrly slnashed up. 

6s 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

O('tober 2. 
Jezebcl ald Swallow ald Tank have ail been 
clipped trace high. I ara getting rather attached 
to Tank. She is so modest and mselfish--a 
contrast to Jezebel. She never expects little 
treats, and seems quite surprised when I give 
her anything. Svallow and 3ezebel always neigh 
when they sec my electric torch Colning towards 
them after dimmr (vhile we «tre back in these 
sale places). But Tank is very shy of the light, 
aud thinks it will bite her. 
Swallov is getting much better, and really 
scems to uuderstand that the shells and guns and 
thiugs probably won't hurt him. We have been 
most extraordilmrily lucky. The troop that got 
through nearly to- the other day, hadn't a 
silgle casualty, although Dick's own mare was 
shot under him and a great many other horses 
were wounded. Ïhe squadron of---- were very 
badly scuppered, I fear. But, anyhov, we ail 
feel t|mt Lloyd George is right. "We are just 
begilming to win. 

O«lober 5. 
It is a glorious day. Such clouds. Swallov 
kicked up his heels and played about like a 
kitten when Hunt took him to water this morn- 
ilg. It's extraordinary how used the horses are 



ARCHIE 

getting to trenches and wire, etc. At first they 
were rather afraid to jump these sudden deep 
ditches, but now they pop across like rabbits. 

October 17. 
Yesterday some Hun aeroplanes got across and 
came right above this camp, a comfortable way 
behind the front line. Heavily strafed by our 
Archies. The blue sky was dotted all over 
with the pretty little white clouds of shrapnel. 
Sergeant Pritchard and I were standing close 
fo Flannagan (one of the men's horses), and the 
men were at stables. We were all looking up and 
longing to see a Hun aeroplane hit, when suddenly 
" s-s-s-swish, plop I" just behind me. It was one 
of the Archie shrapnel cases. If buried itself 
deep in the ground 3 yards from where we were 
standing. We dug it up, and I'll bring if home 
for you. If it isn't too tediously heavy. 
Of course, Archie shrapnel cases ail Colne down, 
and you see hundreds of them lying about ; but 
l've never had one so close before. They some- 
rimes fall broadside on, and sometilnes end on, in 
which case they bury themselves fairly deep. Ail 
the Hun aeroplanes got away, alas ! 

Octobe" 26. 

Once more l'm going up to the strange dead 
village of  In many ways I shall be sorry 
65  



LETTERS TO HELEN 

to go back to comfort and billets, because the 
nmterial for pictures here is very wonderflll. 
You shall see several small things (the powers 
that be call it waste of time I), and it's infuriating 
to think that more can't be done. 
I tell you, if you were here, and if I could 
paint a bit every day, I should be quite happy. 
Ïhe " subjects" are endless, and in particular I 
long fo do great big stretches of this bleak brown 
land. Vell, it can't be helped, so it's no good 
thinking about it. 

October 29. 
SVe are moving to a "back area" to-morrow. 

Vovember 1. 
It's a superb day, and we are back 
one of out old billets, right away from the beast- 
liness. And although leave won't be for another 
week or two, still, it will corne soon. And 
Swallow is in tremendous spirits. 
Here is a drawing done surreptitiously ot' a 
tank in full view of Fritz. You see those little 
stumps of trees ? Vell, I'll tell you what those 
are called when we meet, and also what village is 
just on their left. Vou may say it was stupid to 
sit in full view of Fritz, but it was the day after 
an advance, and there's hardly ever anything 
66 



COCQUEREL 
doing then in the way of sniping. The guns, 
of course, are all pooping off, but they weren't 
shelling just there, soit was quite sale. This 
drawing gives you some idea of tle desolation, 
but none of the unevelmess of the ground. 
You can't walk in a bee-line for three yards 
without getting into a hole. Ïhe last rime I 
was in those parts, by the way, I came on a 
rather jolly cottage wineglass that had been 
thrown out into some soft mud, and was hot 
even cracked. 

_Arovember 6. 
An extraordinary ehange. Let me now give 
you an idea. 
XVe are iii a pretty little country village 
miles and toiles away, and (although olle of 
Fritz's aeroplanes flew over the church as bold as 
brass just before we got in) the quiet and peace 
of the place is very refreshing. ind, droll to 
relate, Fm writing this in bed, with a touch of 
flu--such a bed, too, all soft and billowy. Iii 
ordinary life it would be condenmed as a 
"/çather" bed, but now if is a bed for princes. 
And the room. A rather dark old-fashioned 
paper, an old clock ticking, an old shining chest 
of drawers with a marble top, and clothes hanging 
on pegs. Hale bas arranged the pistol, and 
67 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
ammunition, and maps, and gis hehnets, and 
steel hehnet, and spire kit, with great elaboration, 
all over the room. At the present molnent he 
is "sweeping out'" with the appropriate hissing 
noises. Ïhe dust will, I hope, subside during 
the course of the day. 
Hunt bas got Jezebel, Swallow, and Tmtk 
into a disused barn, where they will be warm 
md happy. 
Out of the window I can see hens pecking in 
an orchard, and an old grey pony browsing. 
The leaves are yellow, and there's no vind. 
Ïhe old man and the old lady to whom the 
cottage belong bave brought me in some little 
" rem5des," which Tire refuses to let me bave. 
One is what the old man (an ex-chemist) calls 
" salicite de métal." and the other is what the old 
lady calls a "remède de bonne femlne." 'ou 
rub yourself with it ail over every two hours ! 
Tick, tick, tick, tick. Lovely! The old clock 
is rumbling. It is about to strike twelve. 
It has struck twelve--no, hOt struck twelve, 
rather it has buzzed twelve, like some old happy 
beeo 
The liens are still pecking about in the orchard, 
and the grey pony is rubbing himself agaiust a 
tree. 
Ail so cosy and delicious. Now for a doze. 

68 



DOZING 

November 7. 
Here's a poem. It's ealled 

HENS. 

At the end of the war 
(Ring, bells, merry bells !) 
We intend 
To keep hens, 
Me and Helen. 
(Ring, bells !) 
Such ht«s ! 
(Merry bells t) 
And though all out hens' eggs be surrounded by shells, 
We shall laugh and hot tare ; 
For there won't be no war» 
And no hell any more 
While Helen is there 
With the hens. 

l've just ruade that up, and the inspiration of 
so profound an epic has made me want to doze 
again. Such a lot of dozingl 

November 12. 
In to-day's letter I enclose a couple of field 
post-cards which I round on a Boche dug-out 
bed-hole. 
l've been so busy these last days, up till late 
hours, and writing has been " " 
na-poo. Leave . 
Yes, leave will corne in time. Probably the first 
half of December. 
How maddening it is for poor old Tom ! It's 
most damnable hard luck being kept there with- 
69 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

out leave such a long time. And I expect that 
he also has rather lost interest. At first the men 
were a great source of interest, and the horses and 
everything. Then France and the front were 
very interesting. Lastly, being under tire was 
very interesting. But now that we are back in 
Rest, I begin to feel I shall be rather sorry to go 
through it again. And Tom has had so much of 
it. Yes, he ought to come home. 
The cottage people here have those lovely pale 
sahnon winter chrysanthemums in their gardens. 
Don't you like them ? 
Since we arrived in this wee village a week ago, 
I haven't been on a horse once, and bave never 
seen anything outside the village itself, vhich 
consists of one street and a side-lane. 

November 1 . 

1 wasn't able to write yesterday, and there may 
be several blank days to come. 
Roger is temporarily away, and I am in charge. 
The thing that's happening is this : A and B are 
eoming down to us, and others are going to relieve 
them. So the arrangements and eorrespondenee 
are vast. All the billeting of this toa is pushed 
on to my hands, too ; and though it's only a small 
village, there's a good lot to do. I ean't colleet 
any thoughts fo write fo you. You understand, 
70 



THE OTHER SQUADRONS ARRIVE 
1 know, and so I needn't say more. l'll write 
again at length when things settle down. This 
sounds muddled. But I count on your under- 
standing that ['ve got more work to do than I 
can manage. 

,Vovember 16. 

To-day, by some amazing fluke, there's a lull. 
One squadron has gone. Sir John is on his way 
down. Julian starts early next week, and Gerald 
a few days later. So within a fortnight we shall 
all be together. $$rhich will be good. 
Some infantry came in from the line to-day. 
Oh ye gods I the British infantry I No rewards, 
honours, no faine, can ever be enough for them. 
We have hot yet gone through what they have 
to go through, but we have been in and out 
amongst them all the rime, and we know. 
Thank goodness this spell of dry weather seems 
to have corne for a few days at least. Cold at 
night is nothing. It's wet at night thatjust kills 
men right and left. Alan died yesterday room- 
ing. Died of exposure. He caught a chill 
while we were up in front, and then got much 
worse, and it finally developed into peritonitis 
and pneumonia. And now he, too, is dead. 
We were all very fond of Alan. 
Death is such a little thing. A change of air 
71 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

--no more. Death is the last day of Term, the 
last day of the Year. Regret ? That's beeause 
we don't understand, quite. 

.November 17. 
I sent you off another beastly little scrap of 
paper to-day, beeause it was impossible to write 
lnore. Here (7 p.ln.) is another lnoment, so I 
snateh it. 
I,isten. Of course it is true that leave has 
been cancelled, but we hear (Rumour) that this 
is only for a few days owing to submarines. If 
leave reopens again, as seems likely therefore, I 
go next. I shall have to hand over Orderly 
Room and all current correspondence, etc. That 
means, with luck, I leave here on the 2nd. 
Don't, of course, count on this; but let's toy 
with the idea. 

November 28. 

I am sitting in the sun, having read your letter. 
The valley of the  is belov lne, a mlle wide, 
all reed-beds and hall submerged willows, with 
the lnain strealn lying like a blue shake amongst 
pale acres of sedge. 
Damn I I was going to write a long and cosy 
letter, but was called back. I had escaped for 
7 



THE SOMME VALLEY 
an hour from Orderly Room with your letter 
and a sketchbook, and was caught in the act. 
No rime now. 

-Arovember 25. 
2t few more moments with you before you go 
fo bed. 
Yes, isn't it funny how we seem to be talk]ng 
face to face l And fo every question of nfine 
you reply in three days' rime and vice versa. It 
always sounds to me like this, rather : 

QUESTION. ANSWEI% 
lllon. Isn't it cold ? None. 
Tues. Have you seen mother ? None. 
lI'ed. Are you happy ? None. 
Thurs. Hov are you ail ? Freezing. 
Fri. When did I see you last ? Only yestcrday. 
Sat. May I have a cake ! Yes, very. 
Sun. How is Queen Anne ? Much better. 
Mon None. Last April. 
Tues. None. I'll send one. 
ll'ed. None. Dead. 

Don't you find it's a bit like that? Vhat 
question can I have asked a week ago to whieh 
the answer is a rabbit ? So tiresome when we 
want to talk at very close range. 
As to leave--well let's hot talk about that. 
Every dog has his day. 
You know the dog who has been shut up in a 
kennel for a long rime . Or the dog who has 
78 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
been locked up in an empty bouse for a long 
rime ? It'll be a nfixture of these. 
Vell, the day will corne. 

November 27. 
Can't write properly because it's very cold and 
l've been riding, and that makes one's fingers 
like pink bananas. They don't seem to answer 
to the bridle. There's an awful noise of hissing 
going on. Hale and Hunt are busy on the 
horses. 

November 8. 
A box will arrive eontaining another Bristol 
ball, whieh I diseovered in a cottage here, and 
bought for 1ri'. 50e. Rather a jolly green one, 
biggish. Also I am enelosing the wineglass from 
Geudeeourt, whieh I mentioned some rime ago. 
There can't be any harm in meutioning this 
naine, as we have left that area some rime now. 
I have got several sketehes of other places round 
about there, whieh I hope you will like. Von't 
it be fun, when the rime eolnes, looking at them. 
Ïo-day Hunt came round in a great state about 
the horses. Jezebel had pulled up ber shaekle, 
and was in " one of her moods," as Hunt always 
deseribes it. She had been kieking both Tank 
and Svallow with great violence. He had left 
ï¢ 



A PRUDENT SERGEANT 
Hale trying to get ber quiet, and rushed up to 
report. 
She was quiet again when I got down, and 
Hale had tied her up successfully. 
But the point of telling you of this episode is 
that meanwhile it was getting rime for the post to 
go. Prudent Sergemat Marsden (Ordedy Room 
sergeant) observed that I hadn't addressed the 
letter yet or signed it outside. So he did it him- 
self l " You very seldom xvrite auy letters to 
other addresses, you see, sir, so I thought I'd 
better address it myself. I thought it would be 
badvisable to miss a post, and I thought the 
young lady would forward it on if it was hot for 
her !" 
It ruade me laugh as I haven't laughed for a 
long rime. Vasn't it niee and thoughtful. He 
tells me he duly forged my signature in the left- 
hand bottom corner. 
Jon'ocks sends his love. " Your little filly" he 
always calls you. 

Vovenber 29. 
About leave. There's no more chance of it at 
present, I think, as we are going up to the line 
again in a week or two, and ve want to work off 
all the lnen, who haven't had any leave at ail, 
before moving up mudwards, when all leave will 
75 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

be stopped. We are engaged at present in prac- 
tically rebuilding and makiug sanitary an entire 
Freneh village, and in "training," whieh means 
all the old dismal tedium of manœuvres plus spit 
and polish. 
These villages are most alnazingly ill-built. 
Swallow this morning lashed out on being bitten 
by .Iezebel, and (dear silly Swallow !) instead of 
hitting .lezebel, she brought down half the wall 
of the shed in which they lire, whieh frightened 
her to such an extent, Hunt tells ne, that she 
fllowed .Iezebel to eat ail ber ibod at midday 
stables. 

November 30. 
We move next week, I think, or possibly the 
week after. 
We are not going back to quite the same part 
of the line, but near it. It will be new country 
to me altogether, and to everyoue else concerned. 
Poor Swallow, poor Jezebel, poor Tauk, 
I'd give anything to shelter you three ; but, alas I 
I fear you are going to have a nasty rime of it 
now. All clipped, too. lt's Swallow particu- 
larly that I tremble for. He does so tbrow up 
the sponge. Tank copies Bird in everything, so 
she ought to pull through all right. 

76 



ASIIENS CATHEDRAL 

Dccembe" 1. 
Ail leave is cancclled again, ai any rate in this 
army--possil)ly o accomt of the movc, possibly 
on account of nasty fish in the sea. tIowcver, 
the telegraln says "" until flrfler notice," which 
usually lneans for a short time only. Not that 
it affects me, but it's bad luck on some of the men 
who were just off. 
Now about Xmas. I have got a lleW erop, 
thank you ever so lnueh, that I bought at a town 
llear here. 
A 1)eautififi eathedral town. 
Vith doors all padded up with sand-bags, the 
great eatledral towers above the town, and is 
seen for toiles and toiles. A good effort. What 
tire they lnUSt have had building it. What they 
believed then they expressed il outward and 
visible form. What we thiuk now is (or ought 
to be) very ditFerent indeed ri'oin what they 
thought the. But I ean't remember having 
ever seen alything that beg'ins to express what 
we think (or ougbt to think) now. 
Everyone in the Chureh of England now 
seems to llle to think ulmost e, ea«tl, q vhat vas 
thought when this eathedral was built I If this 
war aehieves nothing else, I pray with all my 
mind, and all lny soul, and all my strength, that 
all the seets and all the ehurehes may suddenly 
77 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

feel tired of ail the 1001 little lnethods of pro- 
eedure, and say : "Damn it all ! what does all this 
aneient paraphernalia mean to us ? Is God 
quite so olnplieated and involved as we have sup- 
posed ? Everything else in the world progresses. 
Thought progresses. Let us take a deep breath, 
and realize that religion ought to be more ' into 
the future' than even Zeppelins or Tallks, 
please." 

December 2. 
Just been superintending the burying of some 
horses. A curious job. You have to disembowel 
them first. Quite ghoulish. And then head and 
legs are cut off, and the vhole is buried in a hole 
12 feet deep. Up there they often lie about for 
some rime, and get as smelly as dead human 
beings. Back here it all has to be done 
prestissimo. 
The strange thing is that, vhereas before the 
var I should have felt sick and possibly dreamt 
about it, nov it seems merely more boring than 
most other things of the kind. 
Up there Tommies and Honourables eat their 
lunch of sandwiches with lots and lots of dead 
people in varying stages of decomposition all 
round. An odour more hideous than anything 
you have ever imagined. But you get used to it. 
78 



EXPLOSION OF AN AMUNI- 
TION DUMP 

The smoke from a large explosion usuall)" 
assumes a queer tree-like t'orm and dis- 
perses slowl),. 



TALKING ABOUT HOME 

" How unpleasant they are to-day," you say 
fo anyone you are with. And the answer is 
probably just a laugh. Theu you go on (if things 
are quiet) fo discuss an imagiuary day at holne. 
You would smile. 
We actually discuss everybody's clothes, the 
thiugs in the room, the shape of the fireplaee, the 
look of the tea-thiugs and the eomfiness (»f the 
chairs. 
Aud we always end up by saying : "And then 
after that I shall do absolutely ,Vot]dn," for a 
fortnight 

De«ember 3. 

December. Frost on the trees, ail fairy-like in 
this dense mist. Not a sound. The sun quite 
small and white and far away. And if we were 
on the Cotswolds, I expect we should go out for 
a bit of a walk, just to warln up, after breakfast. 

December 4. 
A staff job has been in the air several days. 
It may or may hot corne off. l'in not very keen 
about it in many ways. But l've a feeling that 
1 could do if rather well, aud so l'in hot sure that 
I oughtn't to accept. 
Jezebel and Swallow have quarrelled, lsn't it 
79 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
awfifi. Hunt bas had to put Tank in between 
them. 
.lezebel kicked Swallow, and the blood fairly 
spouted out--got lier in the leg, and she lost her 
retaper, and began lashing out. Hunt, with great 
presence of mind, threw a bucket of water over 
thcnl both. And as soon as they were quiet, dear, 
good, demure little Talk was put in between 
them as bulfer. 
It's a most dreadful nuisance. They used to 
gct on so well together. I hopc they will leave 
that curious little Tank alone. Swallow is as 
lame as a car now. The accursed female is very 
exasperating, I fear. Hunt quite irritated nie for 
a moment when he remarked, ai'ter the incident : 
"Oh, it's all right, sir. She was in one of her 
moods." I pointed out to him that it was not 
all right. Vhereupon he took it into his head 
that I vas strafing him, and lnuttered sulkily : 
" IVell, sir, I must say I never did like Abroad." 
Which ruade nie laugh to such an extent that 
I got a sort of fit of laughing (don't you know ?) 
and couldn't stop. E'entually I had to go away. 
He looked so comic and so dejected, and his use 
of the word Abroad (as if it were a country in 
itseli') always makes me laugh idiotically. I 
haven't seen him since, and it will be ditficult to 
explain the apparent frivolity. 
Things have been very complicated just lately 
80 



CONCERNING WORK 
owing to our having to nmke arrangements about 
taking over this new bit of line. 

D««ember 5. 
One of the many things the war has taught 
us, I think, is the comparative equality of all 
work. Vork depends almost entirely on the 
aetual number of hours per diem, don't you 
think ? 
Certainly brain work is more tiring than spade 
work. But l'll guarantee that the man who 
does eight hours' brai work is hot «mwh more 
tired than the man who does eight hours' spade 
work. 
The only difference is that open-air work 
means better health, and consequently more 
power to work long hours. 
But I really do believe that, for example, a 
nurse's day's work (either for wounded or babies) 
is fitst as hard as a bricklayer's day, or a bank 
clerk's day, or an engine driver's day. And ! 
believe that the various degrees of skill, neces- 
sary for doing any job really well, are not very 
different on the whole. Different, yes, but not 
very different. A General's job is difficult, but 
hot muc more difficult than a nurse's job. 
And so I believe all jobs ought to be paid on 
a rather more equal footing. Not on an equal 
81 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
footing, but a rather more equal footing than 
now. 
Do you agree ? 

1)ecember 6. 
Cathedrals, the earth, the sky, and ail that in 
them is--those are the things that rest and soothe 
one out here. Thank God for cathedrals I How 
splendid of Litlin, to be getting Bunny taught 
reels. I do trust she will give lots of attention 
toit. 
After seeing a certain amount of human misery 
and so forth, I believe more than ever that the 
whole aim of the world is in the direction of Joy. 
And as dancing is one of the most primitive 
expressions of joy, give me dancing, says l. 
This is all said in the middle of dictation of 
orders, and so I expect it's ungrammatical, but 
you know what I mean. 

Deeember 7. 

IVhat do you think ? 1 lunched to-day with 
George. ¥e lunched in a most superb officers' 
club, formerly the bouse of some Count or other : 
all white and gold, and chandeliers and mirrors-- 
a dream. 

8 



JEZEBEL ACCEPTS AN APOLOGY 

December 8. 
Our more has been postponed twiee now, and 
we don't go till Monday. 
But meanwhile I heard ri'oto Mark to-day. 
He is A.D.C. to the G.O.C., and apparently 
eaught sight of Roger and me the other day, 
while flashing past in the G.O.C.'s car. So we 
are going to bave a great meeting. It will be 
immense tire. Mark, Dennis and 1 were all 
tremendos friends--just the saine type. 
Swalloxv is mueh better, and 3ezebel says that, 
if she had known Swallow would bleed so mueh, 
she xvould have kieked him in a different place, 
where he xvouldn't have bled so profusely. This, 
for 3ezebel, is extremely graeious. 
Tank's only remark about being put between 
the two was : " Vell, I'm always very glad to 
do what I'm told." 
Swallow is desperately sorry about the whole 
affair, and is on tenter-hooks lest Jezebel should 
never speak to him again. He says she really 
didn't mean to kick, and she can't understand 
how it is that he has so little control over himself. 
So all's well. 

Decembe.r 9. 
Hunt and Hale have made their very tumble- 
down barn a perfect model of neatness. They 
83 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

sleep within about 3 yards of the horses' heels. 
Hunt in partieular never likes to be far away 
from "my 'osses," as he calls them. I have less 
and less say in the marrer of the 'osses as rime 
goes on I I lnerely say : " Hunt, I want a horse 
and an orderly at 8 a.ln. to-morrow." 
It's useless for me to say I'd like Swallow or 
Tank or Jezebel, because, if I naine ole in par- 
ticular, there's always some reason why it would 
be better hot to ride that one that day. Oh, "she 
wallts shoeing behind," or, " she had olle of her 
moods this morning, and so I exereised ber very 
early," or "he didn't eat his cOrll, alld had better 
stay in." So I just meekly ask for a horse. And 
a horse arrives. 
Swallow is still rather lame, but seems better 
now. And the gentle influence of Tank is, I 
really believe, soothing Jezebel. Tank is a very 
eharming ereature, and ber perfeet manners are 
a good example to the other two. But--what 
an awful admission --she is so good that I own 
[ find her rather dull. Poor little Tank  
Jorrocks has gone off to a nasty place, I fear, 
with his troop. But all seems fairly quiet at 
present. 

December 12. 
The trek is at ai1 end. 
We have arrived at a place well behind thc 
84 



SAILLY-LE-SEC 
line, and not at all wrecked, except for holes 
here and there. But the river I Oh my aunt ! 
It's marvellous. It winds in and out of low hills, 
and as I saw it this evening, from an eminence, it 
looked more snaky than ever. Huge great loops 
with the lovely pale sedges on either side. The 
ahnost yellow hills are dotted with junipers. I 
long to see it to-morrow morning. There's no 
doubt it's one of the most fascinating rivers l've 
seen. Hooded crows sailing over the uplands, 
and I met a flock of bright sweet goldfinches 
near some guns, and a tree-creeper in a copse. 
rhat a vonderful dayl It was snowing all 
the rime, with quite warm, sunny intervals. 
Swallow and Tank and Jezebel are all under 
cover, and l've actually got a bed  You might 
not call ita bed, but it is a bed, because it has 
four legs (one of them a biscuit tin). The place 
where ve vere going to has been rather too 
heavily strafed lately, so they are keeping us 
back here. 
Things are wonderfully quiet, and there are 
no batteries near us, which is pleasant. I did 
want to show you the beautiful river winding in 
and out of the little hills. The great river-bed 
is quite untouched by shells here, and the ve3z 
sight of it would soothe the most jangled nerves. 
Oh, it did look so heavenly this evening. Thank 
God for this glorious river. The snow melted 
85 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
as it fell. The snow flakes as they touched the 
river were like fairics taking headers. 

De«ember 15. 
Isn't this fine about Peace ? 
So Fritz would like Peace, would he ? No 
amount of flamboyant talk can possibly hide the 
fact that he wants peace. And it isn't the victor 
who asks for peace first. Carry on, say wc. 

December 20. 
Have you had any of the letters in which I 
told you how the place xve were to have been 
sent to was too continuously strafed ? And how 
we were sent to this very quiet and unwrecked 
place ? And how l've got a bed, and hosv happy 
the horses are ? 
About the intelligence job. Things are hang- 
ing tire rather, as the Staff Major, xvho may ask 
for me to come away xvith him to another corps, 
is now attached to this corps. So what will be 
the end of it I don't know. 
Fraukly, I ara sore tempted for this reason, 
that I think I could doit rather well. Of course, 
each corps does things differently, but, judging 
from the way in vhich this corps likes the job 
done, I feel certain I could tackle it in another 
86 



A STAFF JOB 
corps. That's boasting. But you understand 
so perfectly. It would be glorious tobe doing 
SOlnething really wel]. 
I can't be an ordinary soldier. ïoo absent- 
minded--hopelessly vague and careless. I lire 
on tenter-hooks always. rhat detail have I 
forgotten ? hat order did I give that could 
be taken two ways ? 
It's sad for Pat that his friends are gone. I 
feel so murky when mine go, that 1 understand 
what it must be for hiln. But fi-icnds or no 
friends, broken-hearted or whole, we must 
damned well carry on ! And that's all about it. 
A perfect letter frolri old Norlnan to-day. 
He rnust be quite useless as a soldier, whereas at 
lais own job he stands alone, with a wonderful 
future before him. Vell, well! I rneant hOt 
to grouse to you again. And here's a letter 
nearly full of if. But there, I ruade a "stupid 
mistake to-day, and it's all so boring and beastly. 
Anyhow, we are fighting Ibr eivilization, and 
the Huns are, too, in a way. But out idea of 
civilization is better than the Huns' idea. So we 
gradually win. 

December 21. 

I have at last ruade up my mind. l'm going 
to take on this job. How unwillingly 1 can 
87 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
hardly tell you. I wanted to be in the great 
Push next year so badly. Everyone, everything, 
is preparing for it. The cavalry will get tbrough, 
and I sball be driving about behind in some 
gilded car, or watching from some very distant 
bill with Jezebe] (wbo won't care a damn wbethcr 
the cavalry get through or not). 
But I bad two interviews with the Major and 
tbe General to-day. Coves like painters seem to 
be rather wanted, and--well, it's clcar now. l 
must go. 
To-morrow or next week, perhaps, the extreme 
fascination of tbe job will obliterate a certain 
feeling of flatness, of disappointment, of . . 
• . . of shirking. Yes, that's it: I feel as if I 
were sbirking ail the horrors. You see, I shall 
enjoy this job ilnmensely. Ail the hatefitl 
"arrangering things" for large numbers of men, 
ail the tiresome formalities, all the discomfort, ail 
the future dangers, finished with--over. I don't 
say that we've had long periods of danger or 
discomfort ; but we've had quite enough to make 
a very ordinary mortal hope never to go through 
it again. 
But to think that l've (teliberately cboseu the 
easy path. Vell, I do't care I l've chosen it. 
1 meant to choose it. I'm glad l've chosen it. 
That is the one job in the vhole war that I could 
do really well. How best to serve the country-- 
88 



A DECISION 

that's the only question. So there you are. l've 
been and took the phmge, and I believe I'm right. 
First of all a week or two getting to know the 
ropes in this corps, and then off with the Major 
and the Gcneral to another corps. 
51y aunt! what an egoistical letter this is. 
However, to you no apologies. 

Deccmber 22. 
Letters have becu ]urchig in, in threes and 
fours. But what matters it hov they corne . I 
always knoxv that they are coming. And the 
flture's where my heart is always. So here's to 
the letters to corne, and here's to our meeting 
again, and here's to Lire--long, sweet, glorious 
Lire. 
We shall see the Christmas roses of the Cots- 
wolds together one day, and I think the xvar will 
have given them a mysterious loveliness that we 
never understood before. Every year they'll 
corne up out of the ground again and surprise us. 
I shall be gettilig older and olderand so will 
you, too. And ail out little plans will have a 
quiet, peaceful joy for us that wouldn't have been 
possible but for the war. Art will be like angels 
coming and going. Effort will be intensified. 
The lires of the poor must be happier, because 
everyone will be more ready to give and take. 
89 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

It won't corne ail at once. But there'll be a 
difference. The war will have ruade a difference. 
Thank God for the war I 

December 25. 
Never talk about the "idle" staff. Yesterday 
we were working absolutely solid without any 
break at ail except ail hour for hmch and an hour 
fiw dinner (tca ? away frivolous thought I) fi'om 
9 a.m. till 11.31) p.m. Most interesting ; but let's 
hope this first day's experience won't be a fair 
salnple, or I shall silnply melt down like a 
guttered candle. None of the Generals and 
people seemed to think it Ulmsual. At least they 
never said so. Personally I found it quite 
kolossal. 

12.30 a.m. 
Such a fimny Christlnas Day ! l've been fix- 
ing on a large map all the gun positions on the 
corps ri'ont. Tbere are a very great many, and the 
positions must be marked very exactly. I was 
quite nervous lest there should be a mistake. It 
has taken since about two o'clock till now. And 
I think it is accurate at last. 
At about 10 p.m. I found out an awful mistake. 
One of the heavies quite 100 yards wrong, which 
might have meant that it would be ranging on 
90 



CHRISTMAS, 1916 

the wrong place, and probably do no danmge 
vhatever. Desperate thought I 
rell, the staff is the most hard-working body 
of lnen l've ever seen. They don't appear ever 
to get any exercise. And, really, the vork is 
ail so vital that I don't sec hov they ever tan 
expect to get any exercise. 
About leave. Possibly on tbe way up to the 
ofler corps a side-slip to Blighty vill be allowed. 
Don't depend on anything. Ïhere seelns to 
be a dearth of people who tan do this work, and 
soit would be umvise to count on getting away. 
The thing is, hovever, conceivable--that is all. 

December 27. 
First of all about current affairs here. 
Captain G-- is probably going to Army, 
soit is suggested that I shall take his place here. 
He runs all the plotting of the aeroplane photo- 
graphs, etc., for the corps. It's a most awful 
and alarming responsibility, and I don't feel that 
I can doit yet. May he hot get taken away 
just for a little while, or I'm lost. 
The corps commander sends for him (he has 
been doing the job for nine months), and says: 
" Now, whcre is out line at the present moment ? 
Has so-and-so trcnch been repaired, aud where 
is so-and-so Gernmn battery that was shelling 
91 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

the  Brigade yesterday ." lVell, of course I 
simply couldlft answer these questions yet. 
The prospect is murky. Given a little rime, I 
think 1 could doit ; but . . . well, one can but 
try. 
I asked the Captain if he thought leave at all 
possible. He most strongly advised me hOt to 
dream of asking. The corps is certain to refuse 
iu ally case, as they will want me to sweat up 
the show alld get to kuow ail about it as rapidly 
as possible. 

January 2, 1917. 
1 think I shall be going to live vith the 
R.F.C., so as tobe able to snatch their photo- 
graphs tbe instant they corne in--puzzle them 
out--put them quickly ou to a map--and send 
them off. Everyone then will know far more 
quickly wbat Fritz is up to. 
So don't be surprised if letters are addressed 
from R.F.C. shortly. 1 shall take a couple of 
draughtsmen and a clerk and an orderly, and 
Hale. 

January 11. 
1 don't know when leave will be possible. 
This job is rather in the making, and is really 
very important stuff. .4 great responsibility, 
9 



I III 



AEROPLANE PHOTOGRAPHS 

says the corps commander. In fact, I ana just a 
bit nervous about things generally. That battery 
that was reported in so-and-so wood. Is it there 
still ? X'Vell, where has it moved to, then ? You 
are hot sure ? Why not? No recent photo- 
graphs ofit. Butwhynot? Canit be inso- 
and-so quarry, perhaps ? That light railway has 
been repeatedly slnashed up by our heavies. 
Repaired ? X'hat ? XVhat evidence have you ? 
Let nie have a map as soon as possible, shoving 
exactly where you believe that line has been 
repaired, and the exact position of' tbat battery 
in the quarry--if it really is there. But don't 
tell me it's in the quarry unless you are quite 
sure. Yes, sir. And you'd better have the map 
duplicated. How many can the draughtsmen 
print before to-morrow ? About 300. XVell, 
send out copies. I must bave that battery silenced 
atonce. Doyou see? Can I relyon it being 
sent out in rime . Yes, sir. 
That's tbe sort of thing. Tbings that m tlst be 
done and quickly. Perhaps it sounds nothing 
much--a mere bit of a map. But maps are like 
lamps to men in the dark. And they must be 
accurate. To me, therefore, the most inaccurate, 
absent-minded mortal before the war that ever 
breathed, itis all a source of great anxiety. 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

January 12. 
l've got a bedroom with a brick floor in a 
cottage. I really hardly know what it's like, as 
I arrive there about twelve o'clock every night 
and fall into bed, and then up again af 7.30 next 
morning as a rule, and fi-owsy af that. The roads 
here are just as muddy as ever, and if you go off 
the roads you go too deep. We are camouflaging 
the whole place, and I thiuk it will soon be very 
ditlicult Ibr the Huns fo see it. At least, when 
I say "we "are camouflaging, I mean that I run 
out for two minutes about every three hours, 
and give hurried directions to a few bewildered 
men, and rush in again, l'm sure they think 
the extraordinary patterns that I order tbem fo 
paint all over the huts, etc.. are quitemad. The 
R.F.C. shov isn't ready yet, but it's likely tobe 
so shortly. 

.lauary 17. 

To-day's letter got n-te into an absurd fit of 
infernal laughter. Hale brought if in vhile I 
was poring over some new photographs of Boche 
emplacements, or dug-outs, or something--poring 
with a magnifying glass.. And then came 
your drawings of the rooms at the cottage. 
That'll be admirable. I tried to hold my head 
9¢ 



BUSY DAYS 

and think of exactly hov the cottage looked, and 
where the new rooms were to be ; but somehow 
l've got no brains left. And I leave it all to you. 
One day we shall be able to discuss it peaceably, 
but at present this brain is like some limp jelly- 
fish floating in the sea. 
To-day l'm doing a map, and the draughtsmen 
are copying it, of some Boche dug-outs. Ve 
gods I what do I tare about dug-outs ! As vell 
make maps of ail the rabbit-holes in Glamorgan- 
shire. But there, what's the good of talking like 
that. It's got to be done. 

J(muary 24,. 
The aeroplanes have brought in the most 
marvellous photographs, and I ara very busy 
deeiphering them and mapping the information 
on to a map. 

February 8. 
After many, many days of incessant work 
comes a brief interval of repose--till to-morrow 
morning. 
1Ve moved up here yesterday affernoon 
late. 
VCell, imagine a lovely large hut. 
The room on the left is where all the maps, 
95 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

etc., are lnade, md the room on the right is my 
office. 
But outsiders ean't just barge into my office. 
Oh no I They must ask one of the orderlies if 
they can sec me. Isn't it ridiculous ! 
Then there is a tiny bedroom. 
The office walls are entirely covered now with 
aeroplane photos and maps. I tis ail rather 
and I think it won't be quite such a strain. The 
cold is intense. Hale is functioning with the 
store in my room at the moment. I bave said 
once that I don't really need a tire in my bed- 
room; but he evidently has different views, and 
is firmly lighting it. He is quite happy here. 
l'in having the hut papered, to make it 
wanner. And canvas curtains, if you plcase 
The R.F.C. people are most hospitablc and 
nice. I like them very nmch. Ifs ail quite 
iteresting, and the aeroplanes are delicit, us as 
thcy lnove, buzzing like vast mosquitoes. 
I go down in a side-car every day (that's the 
programme) to corps H.Q. to report anti get 
instructions. 

Fcbruary 12. 
Something may happen to prevent leave before 
leave cornes. You vill undcrstand. I should 
have to " romain at my post," as novels say. 
96 



VITH THE R.F.C. 

lebruary 15. 
A very difl]cult map hasjust been finished, and 
is being printed, and here we sit down for a little 
talk together. The war is for tbe moment far 
away. Away anxiety, away nervous appre- 
hension, away fatigue, away responsibility, away 
Vilhelm I l,et the doors be shut, the curtains 
drawn. Listen. An adventure, amusing, and 
rather exciting. Vould you like to hear about 
it ? Vell, I was making a raised map of a par- 
ticular part of the line for the corps commander. 
And I go up from rime to time to scan the 
ground, so that it may be very accurate and there- 
fore rather useful. At least that is what I hope. 
Yesterday, then, up into the blue, piloted by 
Eric. 
It was nota good day. In fact, too dud 
good observation. But the relief map must be 
ready quickly. 
Imagine us, please, robed in leather coats and 
leather helmets and gauntlets, and with goggles, 
waiting at the entranee of a hangar while the 
meehanies bring out the gadfly. They have 
already looked the ereature over with great eare. 
The pale yellow wings glitter against the violet 
horizon. The sun is shining, bu t it's freezing hard. 
Erie elimbs in, and then I do. I sit behind with 
the machine gun. 
97 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
1 clasp a sketchbook, to sketch the lie of the 
land. O my aunt in Jerichol isn't if Aïcticl 
Fingers that feel like ammoniatcd quinine. You 
know, a faiut unpleasant tingle. 
They are starting the engines. Diflïcult this 
cold weathcr. Thc following strangc colloquy 
ensues : 
)le«hadc : " Contact." 
Pilot : "Contact." 
M. " Switch off." 
P. "Switch off." 
I. " Contact." 
P. "Contact." 
2I. "Switch off." 
P. "Suck in." 
M. "Contact." 
P. "Contact." 
And with a terrific whir the propeller flashes 
round. The sound increases, and then decreases 
slightly, and increases again. The gadfly moves. 
Moves more rapidly. Skims along the ground. 
Rises, rises, rises. Ah, the beautiful river l 
Every rime I have flown the beauty of that river 
catches me in the throat. But this featureless 
waste. Bereft of everything but earth, and a few 
low shelters and gun-pits, and seamed with 
trenches. Hideously lonely. 
Arell, anyhow, here we are sailing high above 
it all, the wind occasionally liiîing one of the 
98 



A SCRAP IN THE AIR 
wings, and then the other, like a sea-gull's. 
There is a haze, and it's not easy to see. You 
peer over the edge, and behold at last the desired 
wood. 
A wood ? That ? Good heavens I That poor 
miserable mess of splinters and gashed soil ? 
Each tilne I see one of the woods destroyed by 
this var I thank God that out glorious Cotswold 
woods are still untouched. Primroses, wood- 
anemoles, squirrels. To think of squirrels I . . . 
Not another aeroplane in sight. Neither our own 
nor Hun nmchines. Eric circles smoothly round 
above the wood, and then crosses back over no- 
man's-land to fly low, so that I tan see the wood 
obliquely. Archie quite wide of his mark. ïhis 
doubling and circling perplexes him. The sketch 
progresses. I look round from time to time to see 
that there are still no Huns about. Eric also 
looks about. No : nothing in sight. The guns 
are pooping off, but the noise of the engines 
makes the guns sound like tiny little "pops." 
There, now l've nearly done. Lucky I came, 
because the vood islft quite what we thought. 
Yes, that'll do .... We are up at a consider- 
able height .... 
Suddenly Rat-tat, rat, rat, tat, rat, rat, tat l 
above our heads. Three Hun aeroplanes right 
on top of us; Eric drives headlong in a spiral 
curve at full speed, smoke trailing out behind. 
99 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
The gunl I fumble. Can't get round to it. 
Damn I 
Rat-rat, tat, rat, tat, rat, rat! go the Huns. 
But Eric is ihstcr. Are they all Huns, though ? 
Shall I tire? Yes. No. They daren't corne 
down low over our lines. We are satb. Yes, 
look, they were ail Huns. They bang about far 
up aloft. The Hun usually hunts in threes. 
Why, oh vhy, didn't I tire ? Well, it can't be 
helped now. Eric looks round. We both laugh. 
" 'Vhy didn't you tire ?" he shouts. I can't hear 
what he says, but I know from the shape of his 
mouth that's what he is saying. I just smile and 
shake my head. Can't explain now. 
Where on earth did they corne from ? Coast- 
ing about very high up, I suppose, and suddenly 
swooped down at us. 
However, the drawing is done. So that's that. 
Hoirie, .lohn 1 
One little bullet-hole through one of the wings, 
no more. Indifferent shooting, my friend Fritz. 
However, 1 ean't talk, beeause I never fired at 
all 1 

February 16. 
l've never thanked you for the chocolates which 
arrived two days ago. But they arrived durig 
one of the avalanches of work, and were all eaten 
100 



TOLL OF ¥AR 
within hall an hour or so; not by me, but by 
various R.F.C. men who are always coming in 
and out of my office for "the latest." 
To-day all fi'osty and sunny. Think of going 
on to the terrace at home before breakfast and 
seeing some jolly little new flower out, with the 
Golden Yalley behind, all grey-blue and woody. 
It's all working well here, and, being the 
representative of the corps, I have a certain 
status which is pleasant. They think that I may 
or may not give them a good character to the 
Powers that be. Quite fun. 
They are awfully Ifice fellows. The only two 
I knew before were Eric and Bill ¥ivian. Bill 
I have known for a very long rime, and during 
the war l've seen a great deal of him, and was 
very fond of him. He was brought down by 
Archie yesterday in our lines. Burnt to death. 
Dead when they reached hiln. Yesterday night 
at mess xve wcre all quite gay. Only one man 
showed that his heart was as heavy as lead. And 
it seemed bad form. Heaviness of heart is 
bad form. No gentleman should bave a heavy 
heart. A sign of weakness, of iii breeding. 

February 17. 
To-day has been one of the jumpy, anxious 
days again, because something is to happen 
101 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
shortly, and those concerned are ringing up all 
the time asking me this and that about the Boche 
trenches, etc. And they want maps of this and 
plans of that and t'otller. It's these rimes before 
some event that are so wearing. ïhe smaller the 
event, the more wearing very ofteu, because it's 
just some one or two officers, perhaps, who are 
doing the show, and, of course, hall their success 
or failure depends on whether an unhappy intelli- 
gence officer eau tell thenl exactly what they are 
up against, and exactly where it is and so on. 
I always go on the principle ofassuming the worst. 
If I think there may be a minny to mect them, 
I tell them there is a minny, and probably two. 
It may hot be very cheering to them. But if the 
minny is there, well, then l've put them on their 
guard ; and if it isn't there, well, they eau laugh 
at the work of the staff, and there's no harm doue. 
People don't realize the awfid strain and respon- 
sibility and hard work of staffs, lt's SOlnetilnes 
a nightmare. Think of it in this way : I lnake a 
slip. A dozen men get killed. When the Push 
cornes, I make another slip, and a hundred men 
get killed. Perhaps more. Ail the work of the 
lazy and incompetent staff! But if the stafk are 
lazy and incompetent, then, for goodness' sake, 
let's put more energetic and more competent 
people in their places. But where are these more 
competent people ? In the divisions . in the 
10 



THE I¥ILD DUCK 

battalions ? But that is exactly where the present 
staffs came fron I And they are the very people 
who originally ibed at the staffsl XVell, any- 
how, the war will end some day. 

t;'ebruary 21. 
Re America. It doesn't look much as if they 
were coming in now, does it . However, one of 
the Scots Guards gave nie June as the end of the 
war. He offered me 10 to 1 in francs ; but, as I 
am always rather muddled as to whether that 
means that he gives me 10 francs if I win, or I 
give him 1 franc if I lose, or what, I declined te 
bet. I expect he thinks I don't bet on principle. 
But, anyway, let's hope he wins. 
Leave is off at present. 
The worst of this gaine is tlmt now 1 feel I 
want to do it all myself. I really do know a 
fair amount about the Boche lines, and I long 
to spend a day wandering about there taking 
notes ! 
I was up yesterday afternoon trying to find 
out a certain T.M. battery, and what should fly 
by quite close and quite unconcerned but a duck ! 
VCe were hot very high, and it was very misty. 
The duck just appeared, with his neck stretched 
out, eager and oblivious. And then vanished 
into the mist again. I was thinking about that 
103 



LETTERS TO HF, LEN 

duck too much to find out what I wanted. Any- 
way, it was a fruitless journey. But flying 
amongst clouds is very beautiful. Sometimes 
we got above the clouds, to where the sun was 
fimctioning away as efficiently as ever. The 
clouds looked like millions of feather beds. 

Match 2. 
I have been doing some drawings of R.F.C. 
officers. They love being "took " out here, and 
my office is rapidly degenerating into a club, 
which makes work no easier. 
Vell, you sec from the papers what is happen- 
ing. The Boche retires to the Hindenburg Line, 
and we follow. 
I should so love to tell you ail about it, but 
Mum's the word. A great moral defeat for 
poor Fritz, anyway. 
The cavah'y are sharpening their swords. 
The aeroplanes sail high up iii the blue, like 
hungry hawks. 

)larch 5. 
I ara probably going off to-morrow. 
where do you think ? Paris ? Madrid ? 
thing of that sort ? 
Vrong again. Shall I tell you ? 
VICTORIA. 
104 



THE HUN RETREAT 
l'll send you a telegram directly I get across 
the briny. 
And I plead for no " back from the war tea- 
parties," please 1 

1:ll(trch 22. 
The Hun rearguards are uow well beyond 
I knew the place so intimately from 
photographs, and t'roln high up in the ai-, that a 
view of it Il'oin terra-firma promised to be quite 
interesting. 
So with great eagerness, some sandwiches, 
and the faithful sketchbook, I sallied forth. 
Harry came, too. A glorious day of brilliant 
sun and brief snowstorlns. 
Froln the aerodrome through all this devas- 
tated country, past wrecked villages, orchards 
laid waste, dug-out camps, bivouac camps, R.E. 
dumps, light railways, battered trollies lying on 
their sides, and all the ugly confusion of old wire 
rusted a red-hot colour, bits of corrugated iron, 
bits of netting screens, more wire, dead horses, 
dead men in all stages of decomposition, legs, 
hauds, heads scattered anywhere, dead trees, 
mud, broken rifles, gas-bags, tin hellnets, bully- 
beef tins, derelict trenches, derelict telephone 
wires, grenades, aerial torpedoes, ail the toys of 
105 



LETTERS TO HELEN 
war, b'oken and useless Tommy, the dear 
hairies, and the R.E. dumps, to remind you what 
vast stores of everything are still being accumu- 
lated. 
The ground becomes more and more like 
boiliug porridge as you approach no-man's-land. 
Of no-man's-land itself, perhaps, the less said the 
better. No-beast's-land--call it that rather. And 
yet men have been very brave, very tender, in 
no-lnau's-laud. Next we colne to those Hun 
trenchcs that I have peered at from a distancc 
so long aud nmpped so often. It all seems rather 
futile now. 
Past the support trenches. Past the second 
line. l)amn itl how much largcr and deeper 
that old emplacement is than I thought! The 
country is less pitted, too. Of course, it hasn't 
been fought over like out back areas. Why; 
here are trees scarcely knocked about at all. A 
rccognizable field there. How real that stremn 
looks I And, oh Jemilna I a blue tit. 
A little distance farther. Over that gentle 
rise, and there behold Surely one of 
the loveliest towns iu France, on its low hill 
surroundcd by the quiet waters of the Somme. 
From a distance it looks all right ; though Solne- 
how, the smoke still asceuding froln it docsu't 
look uatural. 
As you approach you realize that what looks 
106 



© 



PERONNE 
so charming is just empty, shelled, charred, and 
broken. The Huns have destroyed every sing]e 
house, all the bridges, and the cathedral, too. 
The cathedral that once crowned the town now 
stands a pale crushed ghost in the deserted 
market-place. 
Some of the streets are almost amusing. 
Imagine Rye with the pretty alleys so encum- 
bered and piled up with roofs, .sofas, the contents 
of wardrobes, dorlncr-windows, smashed lnirrors, 
rubble, and dust, that it's quite impossible to 
proceed. Very wcll, that's  
Go into the houses, and thcre it's just as it is 
in the streets. Everything crushcd to atoms. 
Images of saints have becu hurlcd out on to 
garbage-hcaps, and in the cathedral huge pillars 
are lying about in clulnsy confusion amongst 
chairs, organ pipes, and gildcd flowers. 
On a huge notice board in the Grande Place 
the Hun bas written : 

NICHT ARGERN: NUR WUNDERN  

(Don't argue: only xvonder 1 XVe the HullS 
did this. XVhy discuss what we have done ? XVe 
have destroyed your eity. Gape and stare, stupid 
fools ! XVhat does it matter to us ? "Ve took 
your preeious town from you, beeause we wanted 
it. Now we don't want it any more. Here it is 
107 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

back again. With our love.) Some merry soldier 
wrote that up, I suppose. It was a pity. 
There were French oflïcers in ---- to-day. I 
spoke to one. He answered with a quiet, simple 
bitterness and detelnination that would have 
turued even a Hohenzollern pale, I think. Un- 
happy Emperorl he must be feeling decidedly 
uneasy nowadays. 
Another odd sight was a tub flfil of water, with 
a little dog trying to get out. But the little dog 
was dead. A crump evidently landed somewhere 
near, and just petrified him, as it were. You 
orteil see men like that, struck dead in the middle 
of some act. Men are usually turned a dull 
purplish or greenish black. So was this little dog. 
We are a delicious hmch on the battlements, our 
legs dangling 50 feet above the reedy water. 
Lots of moorhen and eoot swimming about. 
The sun was warm. We enjoyed ourselves 
immensely. hat a heavenly world it is ! 

April 6. 

After a hectic day eolnes this chance of vriting 
to you. Eleven-thirty p.m. 
Would you like to hear about night flying ? 
I didn't go, but I sketched the others going. 
And these are some notes. A bombing raid., 
108 



NIGHT FLYING 

It had been ordered in the morning. A raid 
on Affer a cheery dinner we trooped 
out, singing foo]ish songs. Ïhe hangars a few 
hundred yards avay across the mud. They 
looked huge and eerie, looming up from the 
dark ground, ail stately in thc moonlight. The 
moon had a halo, but was very bright, bright 
enough to sketch by. 
Six flares were flickering at intervals round the 
aerodrome. A vivid orange colour against the 
dim blue sky. The horizon was greyer, and little 
flalnes flashed intermitte'ntly frolll it. There 
were the aeroplanes vaiting. 
It vas very eold. Soon the meehanies were 
starting the machines. The usual loud spurting 
and fizzing till presently the first machine begins 
to more. A big semi-luminous beetle lurehing 
forward ; then faster and faster and away, lifting 
up, up, up into the night. Only the lights visible 
nov, but you ean hear the hum of the engines 
a long way off. Other machines follow. The 
sky is full of twinkling tiries. Ïhey eirele 
about for a bit, and then all head tmvards the 
east. Gradually the humming dies away in the 
distance. Look out for yourselves, you sleeping 
Huns ! 
A long xvhile afterwards he humming again. 
The first aeroplane is eoming home. There 
109 



LETTERS TO HELEN 

he is. Gradually loxver and nearer. The 
machine descends smoothly on to the ground, 
turns and "taxis," spitting augrily towards the 
hangar where it lires. Muffled figures get out, 
and the mechanics take in the machine rail first 
to its home. .Vhat ? oh yes, quite successfid. 
Smashed the place to blazes. Anyone got a 
cigarette? Other nmchines begin coming in. 
It's such a clear night that we still stand about 
in groups waiting for the last oae to arrive. 
1)amn it all [ where can old Rupert have got to ? 
Ve'll just wait till he COlnes back, and then 
bundle off to bed. Anxious ? Good Lord, no ! 
What about ? 
Suddenly a small sharp flash high up in the 
night. Another and another. The Huns I They 
are colning. Archie is shelling them. Noxv 
another Archie poops off nearer here. Quick! 
Vhere's the orderly otticer ? 
In a couple of milmtes all is dark. Gradually 
the drone of the Huns, high up in the air, 
becomes audible. No. They seem to be steer- 
ing more towards- Searchlights froln three 
different directions grope slowly to and fro. 
Vhere the devil are the Huns ? The search- 
lights cannot find them. They nmst be cruising 
somewhere up above those rhin cirrus clouds. 
Are they going to drop bombs on us ? No, their 
110 



THE END 

direction is too far south. The searchlights 
cannot find them. 
No sign of Rupert yet. Probably he has 
landed at another aerodrome. Dear old Rupert. 

One of the very best in this world. He'll be ail 
right. Corne on. It's too cold. Let's turn in. 



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